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Sean Sexton: Hillside Equipment Auction Yard Outside Dothan, Alabama

I’m the wretch the song’s about  

                                    from a bumper sticker seen on a truck driving through Alabama


A soft breeze mingles in the teeth

of an ancient harrow, set beside stacked

stock panels and piles of rusted field fence;

falters upon a mass of engine blocks

submerged in visqueen like boulders in a

hard flowing mountain stream as a frozen

silence pervades the iron redoubts of the

hillside equipment auction yard.


There is a forlorn pause among disparate

machines hauled, driven, or dragged into places

they seem remaindered from a wayward carnival.

Odors of fresh paint and grease confuse an

apparition they comprise, cast from distant

fields into glittering rows as stood the Spartan

army among the dunes in early morning light,

awaiting the trumpet’s toll.


For sale on the morrow says the sign: tractors

of every make and model: dozers, loaders, graders,

backhoes and excavators, and spread beyond

their fantasy power upon the compound in descension

like the social ordering of a small-town cemetery,

the accessory dreams of agricultural invention:

combines and balers, buckets and spreaders, 

Adam’s cure—nearly nonsensical in the problems

of its fashioning—monuments to simple, ugly hope.


And you pass by, imagine yourself traversing the aisles,

searching at first your own emptiness for what isn’t there.

Wanton remembrance arises in bruised-knuckle disdain

of the relic grain-drill with jammed seed tubes, frozen bearings,

and missing or broken springs, twenty years out of calibration calling

to you like the sirens from the rocks. And suddenly eighteen small birds

pass overhead in perfect formation, outpacing the movement of the air.

Mindlessly, you take them in— how they seem to know better

than you and your kind, where they should be going as they fly—.


You ‘re still 800 miles from home, full of an allure of things

you were never meant to have, thankful you’ll miss the auction

any auction by sheer gravity of departure, leaving it behind

to the sons of men: the dream-laden, addled, miserly, speculative,

and outright fools—yea the fools or everyone starves. But you

hurry along, safe on your way knowing they will appear tomorrow

evening at the appointed hour, neighbors a thousand miles away.

All: Little less than Gods,

their lands, little more than graves.

Copyright 2022 Sean Sexton

Sean Sexton, author of May Darkness Restore, was born in Indian River County, Florida and grew up on his family’s Treasure Hammock Ranch where he divides his time managing a 700-acre cow-calf and seed stock operation, painting, and writing. He is author of several chapbooks and two full poetry collections with another due out in 2022. He’s performed at the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering in Elko, NV, Miami Book Fair International, and Other Words Literary Conference in Tampa, and was nominated for a Pushcart Prize in 2020. He has received a FL Individual Artist’s Fellowship and became inaugural Poet Laureate of Indian River County in 2016. 

2 comments on “Sean Sexton: Hillside Equipment Auction Yard Outside Dothan, Alabama

  1. Greg Byrd
    April 26, 2022

    Awesome (literally), once again, Sean. Makes me think of Richard Hugo + Hopkins’ “Pied Beauty”

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Barbara Huntington
    April 26, 2022

    Sheer gravity of departure

    Liked by 2 people

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