Rebecca Gayle Howell

Same Song Second Verse

I get sick when I see one of their stubarms waving.

I don’t want to touch them, and anyway Slade hurries us

when we’re told to go log stock—who could report

what those people need. The planes sprayed for weevils,

that’s what was said, then fire ants, that’s what was said,

but it was a tent city of mounds today. Scamp pests

will eat any flesh. The air rots out there. I’d blame

the Brutes, but I know it’s my own dread I smell

fetid and kicking. The ones who have tongues

confess toward night—It was grace that taught my heart

to fear. And grace my fears relieved. How precious

did that grace appear. The hour I first believed. I think

it’s about regret, being wrong, the way things first appear.



This poem is from American Purgatory (Eyewear Publishing, 2017).