Three excerpts from Brazil, Indiana (a folk poem)
by Brian Beatty
My granddad, the year of the coal miners’ strike,
paced the garage until he was out of cigarettes.
After that, bored, he buried his truck to its axles
in my grandmother’s flower garden by the road,
where he sat with his dirty white knuckles choking
the Chevy steering wheel blue.
He didn’t bring the heart slowly, quietly killing him
inside until sunset.
Granddad’s jewel-hued work shirts
weighed down cold wire hangers in the closet in the garage
until I grew into and inherited whatever I wanted.
Nobody else in my junior high had their own
low-hanging cloud of coal dust, diesel fumes and dry rot
following them through the cruel, crowded halls between bells.
Not even the secret smokers barking up lungs
out in the alley behind the school
in that old local tradition.
Antenna TV static blasted down sideways
from the sky burying the farmhouse
well past its windows and doors
trapping the grandparents and the boy
inside a cold quiet for days.
The blizzard miracle of 1977
was how they survived
eating Milky Way candy bars.
Other excerpts from Brazil, Indiana (a folk poem) have appeared in or are forthcoming from Alba, Clementine Poetry Journal, Dressing Room Poetry Journal, Glasgow Review of Books, Midwestern Gothic, The Moth, Poetry City USA, Right Hand Pointing and Yellow Chair Review.
Brian Beatty’s jokes, poems and short stories have appeared in numerous print and online publications, including The Bark, The Chattahoochee Review, The Cimarron Review, Conduit, Dark Mountain, elimae, The Evergreen Review, The Good Men Project, Gulf Coast, Hobart, Juked, McSweeney’s, Opium, Paper Darts, The Quarterly, Revolver, RHINO, Seventeen, The Southern Poetry Review, Sulphur River Literary Review and Sycamore Review. His writing has also been featured in public art projects and on public radio.