at the annual world’s longest yard sale

We had to park a mile away: the truck
my buddy drove like a redneck Charon.
We were always restless in the boondocks.

We were tragically horny. No standards
of emission, the big-block engine belched
and leaked its oil, its unleaded bloodwork

down the rusty undercarriage. We knew
the grass below would brown like a photo.
It was August. Signs swore cockamamie

discounts, a full day’s worth of distraction.
Gothic statues graced the highway’s exit:
a bare-chested chief in headdress, his arm

raised in endless How; a pink elephant
crunked on some jumbo Cosmopolitan.
We heard the banjo and gut-bucket band,

moos and bleats from the fetid petting-zoo.
We met jugglers, peddlers, and face-painters.
We both made a beaded cross for Jesus.

(O, you plain-faced girls with righteous booties!
This was not like Mule Day. Even Mule Day
was not like Mule Day.) I had hoped to buy

some penny-loafers, a lamp, a pick-axe.
I had hoped to tell him I was leaving.
He was my old friend. He was an orphan.

His name was like a nest, full of sorrow.
After his mother’s death, I held his head,
as snug as a gunbutt, to my shoulder.


Author Image

Michael Marberry is a graduate of Lipscomb University and the University of Alabama. Currently, he is an MFA candidate at The Ohio State University, where he serves as Poetry Editor of The Journal. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in Indiana Review, Third Coast, Linebreak, Passages North, Harpur Palate, and elsewhere.

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