Thursday, September 13, 2018


City of Bones
the worst thing we've ever seen
Robert Bowcock, environmental investigator and colleague of Erin Brockovich (Speaking of Leadwood, Missouri)

The bones broken
bleached cages
just down the street
the new weeds grow
a strange green

The solution to cover lead
with more lead from a town
not much better off than we are

When that didn't work they
sprayed it down with sewage

It's safe, they promised

and the bones grew to dandelions
and we were thankful

to find femurs, ribs bent
to smiles, bits of teeth
tumors spreading into
the marrow of our lives

The shit brought in from the Livestock
Sale Barn, the port-o-potty company
full of hypodermic needles biting

and then

Well, and then there was nothing
not even the sound of our cancers

This is what our fathers died for
we said

Part II

I said 
The Company left us
here where the chat dumps loom
like tombstones 
Left us like pigs without tits to suck
I said
The Company decided
lead was no longer viable
and left us with it, an illness
I said
and illness
It doesn't really matter anymore
what the men in suits from safer cities
say I said
When they got around to it
they hauled in dirt with less lead
to cover what we already had
and when that didn't work
they covered our town in

literal shit

Months later we were still
picking out bones and teeth
from the dirt
In some yards after the rain
had washed it away
we were left with piles of bones
            cattle they said
it's safe and the needles
an unforeseeable side-effect

Our grandfather's won't speak of it
won't utter an ill word toward The Company
that fed them
put shoes on their children
gave them something to do with their
backs and hands


What I really mean is this:
            the lead runs deep
            the dark waters
            the tumored fish
            the rough hands
            run deep

           Tommy killed himself
            Bill killed himself
            Buck killed himself
            on and on

It's so simple
our town is small
there's no money


We live in shit
We vote Republican
We pound our Bibles
Eat at Macdonald's
drive big trucks
We drink a lot
we fight a lot
we fuck a lot
and pray a lot for salvation

The lady across the street
finally took down her Jesus
is coming soon sign

There's glory in the blood

We were all so busy
waiting on Armageddon
we never noticed
it was already here.

--Daniel Crocker

First Published in Fried Chicken and Coffee

Daniel Crocker's work has appeared in The Los Angeles Review, Hobart, Big Muddy, New World Writing, Stirring, Juked, The Chiron Review, The Mas Tequila Reviewand over 100 others. His books include Like a Fish (full length) and The One Where I Ruin Your Childhood (e-chap with thousands of downloads) both from Sundress Publications. Green Bean Press published several of his books in the '90s and early 2000s. These include People Everyday and Other Poems, Long Live the 2 of Spades, the novel The Cornstalk Man and the short story collection Do Not Look Directly Into Me. He has also published several chapbooks through various presses. His newest full length collection of poetry, Shit House Rat, was published by Spartan Press in September of 2017. Stubborn Mule Press will publish Leadwood: New and Selected Poems—1998-2018 in October 2018. He was the first winner of the Gerald Locklin Prize in poetry. He is the editor of The Cape Rock (Southeast Missouri State University) and the co-editor of Trailer Park Quarterly. He's also the host of the podcast, Sanesplaining, about poetry, mental illness and nerd stuff. He is a bipolar, bisexual Gemini living the cliché.

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