Arlo Voorhees



When you'd wake me before grammar school,
I always wished you wouldn't show, for dreams
to outlast the dawn, but every frozen morning  

I'd face your steady gaze in jaundiced light,
that yellow mist, I'd curse and trample through
while feeding calves before the bus arrived.



The day you called and said we sold the farm,
I woke at noon to methamphetamines;
I asked for cash, a ticket home for Christmas.

Instead, I collapsed—came to on the tile
of 7-Eleven and again at the hospital—
the nurses marveling at my boyish face

and mumbling cardiac under their breath.
That was the year when Katie crossed over.
One night her eyes just went, her body too.

I took a second job at Motel 6.
I slept through every shift, ashamed to return
and load our Holsteins into foreign trailers.



Fifteen years have passed since Katie died.
I have a job, a Master's degree, money.
How are you, Dad? I ask your sleeping face.

The doctors say the surgery is routine.
I'll stay all night and doze beside your bed,
for when the dawn returns, I know you'll wake          

to peel my slumping body off this chair
and shake my arms until I leave for work.





This amalgam emerged when I tired of writing hard-rhyming, ironic (read: pedantic) poems. I started flirting with blank verse, and it kinda flirted back. Suddenly, I had access to a sentimentality I thought I'd discarded years ago.