Summer/Fall 1997 • Vol. XIX No. 3/4 Poetry |

The Presence of an Absence in a Midwest Town

Crosses doused with gasoline hotter than a mountain of books burning on a Saturday night where ennui has as many names as churches on the main drag—dandelions across those lawns with a worm curled up around each root, the town's one signal light burnt out. A mother and daughter logging off that screen left in the lap of a son whose father was last seen cruising Boystown. This too is America, two men in bed reading late at night, dirt beneath their nails as they ruminateon a Klan Watch Report: Nine Neo-Nazis slay two men walking hand in hand down a Sioux City street. Should we take up arms? Or vows of silence after that order of Benedictine monks outside Dubuque? No midnight runs to the nearest Kum & Go without some new threat. We deserve it, ministers say, all of it foreseen by prophets in a Bible, active hate groups dotting a pull-out map of America like a field gone wild—last year's harvest a ghost of husks. Yet we wake each morning to radio talk: an anti-smut amendment fo

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Timothy Liu’s next book, Luminous Debris: New & Selected Legerdemain (1992-2017), will be out next year. He lives in Manhattan and Woodstock, NY. www.timothyliu.net

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