The Men

By B. H. Fairchild b. 1942
As a kid sitting in a yellow vinyl   
booth in the back of Earl’s Tavern,   
you watch the late-afternoon drunks   
coming and going, sunlight breaking   
through the smoky dark as the door   
opens and closes, and it’s the future   
flashing ahead like the taillights   
of a semi as you drop over a rise   
in the road on your way to Amarillo,   
bright lights and blonde-haired women,   
as Billy used to say, slumped over   
his beer like a snail, make a real man   
out of you, the smile bleak as the gaps   
between his teeth, stay loose, son,   
don’t die before you’re dead. Always
the warnings from men you worked with   
before they broke, blue fingernails,   
eyes red as fate. A different life
for me, you think, and outside later,   
feeling young and strong enough to raise
the sun back up, you stare down Highway 54,   
pushing everything—stars, sky, moon,   
all but a thin line at the edge
of the world—behind you. Your headlights   
sweep across the tavern window,   
ripping the dark from the small, humped   
shapes of men inside who turn and look,   
like small animals caught in the glare   
of your lights on the road to Amarillo.

B. H. Fairchild, “The Men” from The Arrival of the Future. Copyright © 2000 by B. H. Fairchild. Reprinted with the permission of Alice James Books.

Source: The Arrival of the Future (Alice James Books, 2000)

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Poet B. H. Fairchild b. 1942

Subjects Living, Disappointment & Failure, Coming of Age, Youth, Activities, Travels & Journeys

Poetic Terms Free Verse

 B. H. Fairchild

Biography

B.H. Fairchild was born in 1942 in Houston, Texas, and grew up in small towns in Texas and Kansas. The son of a lathe operator, he attended the University of Kansas and the University of Tulsa. His poetry explores the empty landscapes of the region of his birth, and the lives of its working-class residents, including his own family and friends. Frequently described as a poet of the “sacred,” Fairchild’s work has gained renown . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Living, Disappointment & Failure, Coming of Age, Youth, Activities, Travels & Journeys

Poetic Terms Free Verse

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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