Reading Literary Theory and Weeping

Antioch Writers’ Workshop Poetry Contest
1st Place, Adult

I hear a train whistle at 3 a.m.
and I’m not wearing overalls,
not singing “I was young when I left home.”
My guitar is near enough
that I could play a blues,
but I’ve neglected my Bible.
I get up from the kitchen table,
pacing where I’ve yet to put a couch.
The Promised Land can’t be Chicago:
I miss my family like a wanderer
even when I’m just ten miles away,
reading ecocriticism.
I know the bane of the caterpillar—
and it’s not a universal experience.
Shakespeare is too worldly for me
because I can’t speak as if I’m steam.
I imagine myself as a prophet,
and so I know coal is a limited resource.
I look for it when there is a new moon,
when I always find less than I need.
Because I have beliefs while there are slums,
I’ll visit my mother only enough
that it seems I’ve seen the future
each time I say I love you.

about the author
Born in Dayton, Ohio, Brandon North will be attending the NEOMFA program at Cleveland State beginning August 2015. The generalized desire to escape so commonly felt by Ohioans is transfigured into his poems, which have appeared in previous issues of Mock Turtle Zine.