Where We Come From

by Daniel Crocker

Where We Come From (ver. 2.0)

(Leadwood, Missouri pop. 1,200)


Matt lit a joint here

driving beneath the arms of dying trees

The moon shone through in jigsaw puzzles

that we could never quite figure out

Gravel crackled like leaves in fire

beneath the weight of tires and restless boys

And we scattered beer cans

in no particular order

across the floorboard

Annette had just broken it off with him

and he beat drums out on the dash

a blue bandanna stretched tight the veins

collapsing in his forehead

And the September air held the smell

of burning trash in the tips of her fingers

somewhere far away

We liked the looks of our faces

basked blue in electric light

the call numbers of a station we had not tuned to

Eventually high

we rode back into town

two cowboys and a whiskey bottle between us.


Old timers sit staring from their porches

no job to wake up to

they watch potholes for clarity

A future for the boys passes on the tailgate of a Ford

ripens like a soft apple and falls away

Graduation 1991

we ride past the foundation of the old movie house

burnt to the ground in ‘52

Glen had once stood naked there on a dare

A fake gold cap is twisted from a bottle of cheap champagne

handed palm-to-palm with no comment

Mandy passed out hours ago

her jeans smooth against her thighs

bone white under the moon

we whooped it up like only good old boys can do.


The chat dump is waste spilled

from the great lead mines of the 20's

Our grandfather's worked there

grew old and died

and left our grandmothers with nothing

The chat dump

(sand and lead dust pumped from the earth)

looms over the town

Its sprawl is endless

a hand clenched tight

it covers everything here

like a curse

Sometimes men in suits come from the city

and test our water

We know it's not safe, but what can you do?

My mother had sat me down in it

when I was an infant

She cast her spells under the toenail moon

chanted words men were never meant to hear

and accomplished nothing


The chat dump is where fires burn until dawn

kegs empty quickly

and twenty-somethings with nothing else to do

ponder the possibility of iron and steel

The chat dump is a desert in the heartland

Budweiser cans and cigarettes

stomped out in mid-smoke

Nothing grows here.

The chat dump

the half-shell of some cosmic turtle

the size of a domed stadium

the silence of death falling silently through our hands

Matt and I tried to climb it once

in his Daddy's Chevy

half way up the tires stuck

then, backing down, we nearly rolled her to our deaths.