By Forrest Gander b. 1956 Forrest Gander
Good morning kiss. Their teeth glance. Clack of June
bugs against pane. On the porch a young man
in the full sun rocking.
Jars incubate tomato plants. His mother sweeps the dirt
yard away from flowering vinca and bottle tree.
Straightens up, one-eyed by ragged hens. As her boy
ambles away to the steady pulse
in his skull.
The cattle gate
swinging open behind him.
She takes a headache powder
and it is nineteen and twenty seven.
The James overruns its levee, backs up
the Blackwater. Nineteen and twenty nine: she reads his postcard,
the tobacco crop burns. Nineteen and thirty, drought.
Long limp bags drag through fields. The Lord whistles
for the fly. Revival tents threaten a rain
of scorpions. To cure her hiccups,
the woman sees a hypnotist. Promptly
coughs herself to death. In pungs marked men ride. The son
is blown away. No one returns in this story. No one escapes.
The tribe is glued together for ruination, friends.
There is no more time, there is no way out.

Forrest Gander, “Abcess” from Lynchburg. Copyright © 1993 by Forrest Gander. All rights are controlled by the University of Pittsburgh Press. Reprinted with the permission of the University of Pittsburgh Press, www.upress.pitt.edu.

Source: Lynchburg (1993)

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Poet Forrest Gander b. 1956

POET’S REGION U.S., New England

Subjects Family & Ancestors, Nature, Relationships, Landscapes & Pastorals

Poetic Terms Free Verse, Pastoral

 Forrest  Gander


Born in California’s Mojave Desert, poet Forrest Gander grew up in Virginia and attended the College of William & Mary, where he majored in geology. After receiving an MA in literature from San Francisco State University, Gander moved to Mexico, then to Arkansas, where his poetry—informed by his knowledge of geology—turned its attention to landscape as foreground or source of action.

Gander’s books of poetry include Eye Against . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Family & Ancestors, Nature, Relationships, Landscapes & Pastorals

POET’S REGION U.S., New England

Poetic Terms Free Verse, Pastoral

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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