Robert Lee Kendrick: “Measures”


Listening to gas hose hiss, a slight-

shouldered man watches pump

numbers climb. Last twenty gone

from his canvas shirt pocket,

his evening hunger unfilled

by leftover two-for-one biscuits.

He surveys his dry rot-ringed

sidewalls, the rust-cankered fenders,

the chips in the aging blue paint.

The harvest moon burns in a puddle

of oil, as evening bends its long note

against the sky’s fretboard. His rosary

hangs from the rear-view, tarnished

cross twisting in breeze. He has thirty

minutes to cross Pickens County,

knock out a shift cleaning floors.

A day pouring concrete behind him.

Wife and daughter three time zones

away. More weeks for the courts to decide.

Duration of residence. Employment

status. Birth certificates. Current address.

The days and nights and nights and days

of work and wait. He watches a tom cat

slide under a dumpster, something brown

in its mouth. He lowers himself in the seat.

He does not close the door. Keys in his hand.

The pendulum beads. The pump’s steady tick.

Robert Lee Kendrick has previously published in Birmingham Poetry Review, Valparaiso Poetry Review, Atlanta Review, Tar River Poetry, and elsewhere. His collections are What Once Burst With Brilliance (Iris Press, 2018) and Shape the Bent Straight (Main Street Rag, 2020).

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