The sign out front announces the times
you can come in for some salvation.
They never coincide with the changing
shifts, but a couple of miles further on
there’s a bar that is not so particular.
In my rear view, the factory is landscape,
blocks of corrugated angles setting
off smudged lines of the Smokies to the east.
At the intersection, I stare at bulls
staring across the road into a field
of cows. I know the way I ought to turn
but never do, know I should have never
followed those sullen men—booted, smoking—
into the place that gives this town its name.
Which is not a name. Nothing belongs to us.
Rick Joines was born in the Smoky Mountains, grew up in Nashville, and has worked and studied throughout the South. He now writes and teaches in Denton, Texas. His poems and book reviews have appeared or are forthcoming in Birmingham Poetry Review, The Critical Flame, The Rumpus, Southern Humanities Review, American Literary Review, Quarterly West, Tusculum Review, Contemporary Poetry Review, Byrn Mawr Classical Review, and in a chapbook, Paradeisos (Anaphora Press).