We shine shotgun barrels.
We toast iced milk.

And we are negated by the keep-on-coming
roll of rat-damning lips, stiff as crawdad shells.

The crawdads of my youth were revered,
orange-shelled fathers knowing only the toil
of digging holes, of draining the creek.

I drank from the creek, and the water was sweet.

And the water was polluted with deer piss
and beaver piss and the piss of blackbirds
swelling the clouds.

And I know a man whose eyes swelled
after a spider bit them shut.

He worried about blindness and blind Milton
feeding poems to his daughters, and the daughters
missing a caesura.  And blind, he strides
into the gymnasium and says:

“Should we build houses of animal skins?

Should we mainline coal dust
and moonshine, our fathers’ aqua vitae?”

For that blind man, the mountains ache
for drills and mines and songs, and I believe
one day he shall stand beneath
and say:

“My pockets weigh me down,
but I once bought a whore in Hanover
for less than the cost of sixty feet of PVC.
I have felt the lash of ages,
and I will gladly bear his whip.”




Adam McGraw is a writer born in McGraws, West Virginia.  He received his M.F.A. in Creative Writing: Poetry from Georgia College and State University.  His work has been published in a number of journals, including "Poet Lore," "Skidrow Penthouse," "Bayou Magazine," "and "Green Mountains Review."