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.