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Poem-a-Day

Delivery

Delivery

I ran out of the house shirtless, yelling
for the dog not to get hit on the road.
Only after I opened the package
did I think of how the UPS guy,
who I like, but who I assume maybe
isn't the world's biggest reader of
Appalachian short fiction, had driven
for miles in silence in the presence
of this book I had ordered on the life
of Breece D'J Pancake, including heart
breaking letters he wrote to his parents
and a suicide note he sent to John
Casey, his teacher, who I had dinner
with one night in Charlottesville, telling him
about the time, driving through the mountains
of West Virginia, I took the exit
for Milton on a whim, remembering
reading the name in the very same book
the UPS guy delivered to me
today, then drove aimlessly around town
until I found the cemetery, where
I turned here and there at random down lanes
so narrow that my tires straddled them,
until I felt an urge to stop and said
to myself, "When I turn my head I'll see
Breece's grave." And sure enough, there it was,
the name PANCAKE on a big stone that marked
the family plot, and, getting out, his grave
set level with the grass someone was paid
to cut, likely not even knowing that
they were spewing clippings onto the head
stone of one of the best story writers
America has ever produced, and
that was when John stopped me, saying, "Austin,
I buried him with these hands," showing me.

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