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Somewhere East of There


by John Riley


The last time I saw my father he wasn't dead.
He sat on the side of a motel bed in Dallas
and stared at me as though I could bless.
I told him I was going to the liquor store
to replenish his supply of Old Crow
but my Camaro was packed and by sunrise
I could be in Tupelo, if that was the route I took.
There was a photo of him on the nightstand.
In the picture he was young and looked a little
like Olivier in Wuthering Heights, if Olivier
had been a car salesman in Jackson.
It's funny how my mind splits in two
when I try to remember what came next.
I may not have headed north at all,
took I-20 through Shreveport
all the way to Atlanta instead. I can't recall
which way I went. I do know that when I left
I didn't say good-bye, but did suggest
he stretch out on the bed
and try to take a little rest.
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