Walking West on East 5th Street
– Benson, Arizona
It is spring, and in a town that awaits
the luster of fairgrounds to come alive,
the doors of taverns open early, like strangers
with a promise. Flat-roofed houses yield
to groves of mesquite. Their limbs stretch
streetlight halos into frail shadows veining asphalt
that webs the neighborhood. The trundling
iron of the Union Pacific enters town at a late
hour. Its headlamp startles shacks to burnished
yellow as it floods for mere seconds the frame
of a drunken soldier, home on leave from a long
war. He shuffles through an unpaved alley
like an astronaut scuffing the dust of the moon.
A final blast from the locomotive seems to hew
the world into the past tense. It surmounts cheers
unreeling from a small crowd seated under
the ballfield lighting of a pickup game. A young
hopeful sprints homeward, rounds third, already out.
This poem previous appeared in Idyll for a Vanishing River (Glass Lyre Press, 2013)
About the Author: Jeffrey Alfier is 2018 winner of the Angela Consolo Manckiewick Poetry Prize, from Lummox Press. In 2014 he won the Kithara Book Prize, judged by Dennis Maloney. Publication credits include Crab Orchard Review, Southern Poetry Review, Atlanta Review, Copper Nickel, Emerson Review, Iron Horse Literary Review, Kestrel, Hotel Amerika, Midwest Quarterly, Poetry Ireland Review and South Carolina Review. He is author of The Wolf Yearling, Idyll for a Vanishing River, Fugue for a Desert Mountain, Anthem for Pacific Avenue: California Poems, Southbound Express to Bayhead: New Jersey Poems, The Red Stag at Carrbridge: Scotland Poems, Bleak Music – a photo and poetry collaboration with poet Larry D. Thomas and The Storm Petrel: Poems of Ireland. He is founder and co-editor at Blue Horse Press and San Pedro River Review. An Air Force veteran, he is a member of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America.
Image Credit: “Main Street, Benson, Arizona” By Jeffrey Alfier