The Levee

by William Lusk Coppage 

I hit fifty in the straight-a-ways; watch dust
and rocks rooster-tail into the clouds. Cow shit
litters the loose gravel—piles and piles
like land mines out to slow my truck’s speed.
The levee curves and the river snakes along.
A herd of cows block my path with mouths
chock full of cud. Out my window the wild
river winks with the blink of sunrays.
She allures with hellhounds and hoochie-coos,
shotgun houses that serve homemade barbecue,
and broken down blues of lost angels. The river’s rule
is guarded by leftover industries of failed
revolution—heartless textiles, feed-less
grain bins, salvage yards full of forgotten tugs
and rust-riddled barges, the marina’s docks
with overgrown ramps permanently parked
under the non-glowing casino lights.
The bovine step slowly out of my path,
tire from pondering my purpose. I am
the one left with questions that lead
down a dirt road to a dead cityscape.
Under whose watch did this town fall asleep?

After serving in the United States Air Force, William Lusk Coppage completed his MFA in poetry from McNeese State University. He now teaches English in Wilmington, North Carolina, at Cape Fear Community College. His poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in The Oxford American, The Greensboro Review, Cream City Review and Word Riot.

Final Wish