It's the Little Towns I Like

By Thomas Lux b. 1946 Thomas Lux
It’s the little towns I like   
with their little mills making ratchets   
and stanchions, elastic web,   
spindles, you   
name it. I like them in New England,   
America, particularly-providing   
bad jobs good enough to live on, to live in   
families even: kindergarten,   
church suppers, beach umbrellas ... The towns   
are real, so fragile in their loneliness   
a flood could come along   
(and floods have) and cut them in two,   
in half. There is no mayor,   
the town council’s not prepared   
for this, three of the four policemen   
are stranded on their roofs ... and it doesn’t stop   
raining. The mountain   
is so thick with water parts of it just slide   
down on the heifers—soggy, suicidal—
in the pastures below. It rains, it rains   
in these towns and, because   
there’s no other way, your father gets in a rowboat   
so he can go to work.

Thomas Lux, “It’s the Little Towns I Like” from New and Selected Poems: 1975-1995. Copyright © 1997 by Thomas Lux. Used by the permission of Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.

Source: Poetry (December 1980).


This poem originally appeared in the December 1980 issue of Poetry magazine

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December 1980
 Thomas  Lux


Acclaimed poet and teacher Thomas Lux began publishing haunted, ironic poems that owed much to the Neo-surrealist movement in the 1970s. Critically lauded from his first book Memory’s Handgrenade (1972), Lux’s poetry has gradually evolved towards a more direct treatment of immediately available, though no less strange, human experience. Often using ironic or sardonic speakers, startlingly apt imagery, careful rhythms, and . . .

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SUBJECT Jobs & Working, Activities

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