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Alone, Drinking with the Tickfaw River

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Featherweight lawn chair, cooler for a footrest,
and me a squatter on the landlord's dock
where baitstealers teased a thousand times a day
until rowdy boats and summer scared them deep.
Day and night I snoozed on the porch
beneath a filthy orbit of fanblades
to the opera of my neighbors fighting
and reconciling in the glow of stolen wattage.

I saw them swimming once. Maybe naked,
judging from their skittish talk, but the water
smeared their bodies' pale particulars.
It was just me and the Tickfaw River.
Me with the taste of a tin can in my mouth,
feeling no pain, lighting a cigarette backwards,
the Tickfaw tricking me closer and closer
with echoes and music out of nowhere.

Is it funny that I was too lit to notice
twenty-five orange yards of extension cord
stretching from my outlet, over the driveway shells,
to feed the hungry plug of their deep freezer?
Mother would have pitched a fit if she discovered
the stash of whiskey in the woodpile,
and my father wasn't laughing
if he looked down from his company of stars.

Source: Poetry

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This poem originally appeared in the January 2005 issue of Poetry magazine

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Alone, Drinking with the Tickfaw River

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