On a Small River Town

I was raised in a small river town,
the people knew me and knew the price of milk
and other things that mattered, like
work and family and love.

Shabby, shining parades, and church directories,
and picnics, and high school dances,
students of the month, and
work and family and love.

And we talked about other things, like money
and politics and gossip and entertainment,
but never above
work and family and love.

And that’s not how it really was,
there was violence, neglect, and pain,
and ignorance and vileness too —
backward bubbas were a common refrain.

But we were small and cozy and sort of friendly,
and so we remember what we want, a crooked line,
we deceive ourselves as keepers of what is pure
and what is wholesome and kind.

And I no longer know what is real and not,
or what matters to the great above,
but it all seems to revolve around
work and family and love.