Rebecca Foust

Altoona to Anywhere

Go ahead, aspire to transcend

your hardscrabble roots, bootstrap

the life you dream on,

escape the small-minded tyranny

of your small-minded Midwestern

coalmining town. 


But when you’ve left it behind, you

may find it still there, in your dreams,

your syntax, the smell of your hair,

its real smell, under the shampoo.

Beware DNA; it will out or be outed,

and you’ll find yourself back

where you started, back home,

unable to refute the logic of blood and bone 

you’ll slip, and pick up Velveeta

instead of brie.  It’s inexorable.

Kansas one day will turn out to be Oz

and Oz Kansas,


with the same back porch weeping,

the same husbands sleeping around,

addiction, cancer, babies born wrong;

the same siren nights pierced

with stars seeping light, all that

gorgeous, pitiless song.




“Altoona to Anywhere” first appeared in under the title, “Altoona to Marin,” in Dos Passos Review, Vol. 4, No. 2 Fall 2007.