Crossroads

by Janice Northerns Issue: Spring 2019

 

Crossroads

 

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.



Janice Northerns

 

Janice Northerns, a native Texan, currently lives in southwest Kansas, where she teaches English at a community college. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in The Laurel Review, The Chariton Review, Roanoke Review, Southwestern American Literature, descant, and elsewhere. She received a 2018 Tennessee Williams scholarship to the Sewanee Writers’ Conference, won second place in Southwest Review’s 2017 Marr Poetry Contest, and is a recipient of the Robert S. Newton Creative Writing Award from Texas Tech University. Read more of her poetry at www.janicenortherns.com or follow her on Twitter @JaniceNortherns.