“Jayus” by Michael Blaine

Michael Blaine


On a long stretch of road, we once
collected them in brown paper bags
drove them home in the back seat
and released them around our yard.

We would count them
counting until finally
none could be counted.

My childhood friend
would light Black Cats
between their wide lips.

He would somersault some
slam others against trees
count Mississippi’s as few
staggered back conscious.

He would call me later
after his daughter sidestepped
into a car and was thrown forward.
She passed there on the roadside.

After late summer showers
we drive along glossy roads
eyes and jumps in headlights.

We don’t get out anymore;
it feels dangerous enough
swerving around them.

My daughter once asked
why they cross the road.

But when did toads
ever get a fair shake
except in fairy tales
or with little girls?

from Rattle #39, Spring 2013
Tribute to Southern Poets

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