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NATE DUKE | All the People You Want Are Naked Asleep in Another June

The lake crawled into my driveshaft and locked the axles.

Composure as mechanical frequency of I-beams, steel

railroad bridge. Its crescendo met with a rubber mallet

lover. Could I be drug across town tied to the rear axle

of a Bronco? Eyes strung from the rearview mirror like dice.

Goodbye traction control, goodbye loose gravel.

The nation’s forests or their ransom: payable to the fire giant

at the dead-drop spring. Mom flips dawn silhouettes in a glowing frypan

made of I-40 blacktop and hot grease jumped as the green

yellow hummingbirds of your granddaughter’s first spring. If it was me

cooking I’d beat the dawns to charm the dowager empress

of the galaxy out of her concertina wire ballgown. If it was me

I’d offload my dreams at your feet as a dozen 2017 Tacomas,

forest green, stick-shift, running boards lifted axles. White tendons

of dehydrated meat stuck between teeth as irreverence. Some people

pretend it’s ravaged beauty or loss and I call it a game,

a competition. Drift the rear axle and throw road dust higher

than early sun, the creekfog it woke. Pasture dust camouflages

livestock and this smell could be the end of your brake pads or oil

leaking onto the drive shaft or that semi in front of you hurtling

down the mountain pass, the end of its brake pads. I once crossed the country

without a lover in the passenger seat, swore at the rearview

never again. I need someone to pretend to believe me when I lie

the nuclear plant is a cloud factory and all this bambi-eyed roadkill

is somehow tumbleweed, a log, refrigerator box, illusion.

Nate Duke was born in Arkansas and is currently a PhD student at Florida State University. His poems and nonfiction are forthcoming in the Southern Humanities Review, the Arkansas International, and have appeared elsewhere.

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