Liberal, Kansas, Crossroads of Commerce,
is at the crossroads of U.S. Highway 54 and U.S. Highway 83
—From the town’s Chamber of Commerce website
Garish plastic Redskin shines by sunset
on the high school wall. ’Cross town, National Beef
smokestacks glow like the Star in the East,
lighting the way for Mexican pilgrims
up Highway 54 to Western Crest
Trailer Park. Night’s temperature inversion
holds that glow, clamps down a red bowl over
the whole town. You smell it then, mist of blood
and burning bone rising from the kill floor.
Workers shiver in company-issue
coats, flaying sides of beef they can’t afford.
For them, tripe and menudo and children,
their sons’ and daughters’ futball forbidden
at Redskin Field — American heaven
reserved for Friday nights, Jesus blessing
every kick, every tackle, every pass.