American Muse: Austin Smith


“Factory Town”

The factory stands on the train
of your town’s wedding gown,
dirtying it and smoking

unfiltered cigarettes. Embarrassed,
the clouds rush to cover up
the track marks of the stars.

On your way home from the factory
-run theater, it’s too dark to say
hello to the pale-faced people

plummeting past you and your son.
Who knows what bright things
they conceal in their black coats

now that they’ve rationed the rations.
Home before curfew, the iodine
tablets fume in the bedtime

glass of water your son requests.
He sips it as if it were hot tea
while you read to him yet again

that ancient story you three
loved. You stumble over the new
language, but even it is becoming

beautiful. You close the book,
kiss his forehead, stand the flashlight
upright by the fuming glass

and stumble to your bed in the dark.
Your son will wake in the night
and turn on the flashlight

so he can see the water
that he will turn into urine
that you will carry in an armful

of sheets down to the river,
that gray, dappled,
broken thing running

through the dying trees
like an app
-aloosa spooked by gunfire.

Below – Jonas Lie: “American Factory Town.”

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