Rodney Jones


On Pickiness

When the first mechanical picker had stripped the field,
It left such a copious white dross of disorderly wispiness
That my mother could not console herself to the waste
And insisted on having it picked over with human hands,

Though anyone could see there was not enough for ten sheets
And the hands had long since gone into the factories.
No matter how often my father pointed this out,
She worried it the way I’ ve worried the extra words

Rain on Tin

If I ever get over the bodies of women, I am going to think of the rain,
of waiting under the eaves of an old house
at that moment
when it takes a form like fog.
It makes the mountain vanish.
Then the smell of rain, which is the smell of the earth a plow turns up,
only condensed and refined.
Almost fifty years since thunder rolled
and the nerves woke like secret agents under the skin.
Brazil is where I wanted to live.
The border is not far from here.
Lonely and grateful would be my way to end,

The package

It was a green barn coat from L. L. Bean
That he had ordered, thinking of her
Walking the snowy hillside of his dream
Though she detested the style and color.

That it arrived two days after he died
Did not dispose her to detest it less
Though she may have wished she did,
The way she wished she’d kept house

More neatly or baked instead of fried,
For every coronary’s a latent homicide —
If not what we did, what we did not do.
If not what we said, what we did not say.

The Troubles That Women Start Are Men

On the porch, unbreeched shotgun dangling
Across one arm, just after the killing,
The murderer, Billy Winkles, made polite
Small talk with my father while we waited
For the sheriff to come. The reek of cordite
Still loomed above the sheeted corpse, his uncle
Ben, whose various dark and viscous organs
Jeweled the lawn. “Want some coffee, Von?”