Winter 1993 • Vol. XV No. 1 PoetryJanuary 1, 1993 |

Driving Independence Day

War built the roads you cross. Men with bad
hearts or flat feet broke rocks, backs, laying
this pave like stateside wives. Strawberries
grow red as handpainted signs which urge you
toward them, a hunger. You never stop, expecting
baskets spoiled bloody or already eaten. Speed
past the Amish boys who don’t drink or die

in battle. Flowered tourists pull over to steal pictures
because they can. In the fields the brownest horses
never look back. Only in towns do you slow, steady
when told. Folks in Boalsburg mow their tombstones,
women water flags in Woodward. Hotels keep out
VACANCY the way the Sunday best of a lost soldier

dangles in mother’s closet. At the corner store a dime
won’t even buy an operator’s voice. Ribbons yellow
as hearts clutch to every porch. You leave town thinking
of wars, revolutionary, civil. Where do all the black folks
get buried in this country? German graves push up
against the road, Hackenberg & Gunderman almost touch

your mirror. Watch for the warnings: Bridge May
Be Icy, the Confederate flag outside Lewisburg.
Past Valentine’s Roofing Repair, cemeteries
grow up around the ripe cows. Don’t stop to take
it in, just pass by those buildings with flags hung
like black men, those post offices where
the slowest, the most words are kept.

Kevin Young is the author of ten books of poetry, most recently Blue Laws: Selected & Uncollected Poems, 1995–2015. His Book of Hours was a finalist for the Kingsley Tufts Prize; his book The Grey Album won the PEN Open Award, the Graywolf Nonfiction Prize, and was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award in criticism. This essay has been adapted from Bunk: The Rise of Hoaxes, Humbug, Plagiarists, Phonies, Post-Facts, and Fake News, longlisted for the National Book Award.

Read More


By Kevin Young

It never ends, the bruise    of being—messy, untimely, the breath of newborns uneven, half    pant, as they find their rhythm, inexact as vengeance. Son,    while you sleep we watch you […]


Your free registration with Kenyon review incudes access to exclusive content, early access to program registration, and more.


With your support, we’ll continue 
to cultivate talent and publish extraordinary literature from diverse voices around the world.