on greased up hogs say Hey,
shuffle in. Black stains and dust
at the cuffs. Open road’s been good
to them. So good, the open road’s
rough throat. The songs it sings
through the ache in their legs,
the dull throb in the groin. Muscles pull
on bones as they stretch between
this stretch and the next. Sun setting
over mountains in the west. Half alive
in a dive bar half empty: them, me,
and the green glow hanging low
over the pool table. The knuckle crack
of cue into cueball into ball into pocket.
I’m turned out, letting eyes wander
over tattooed necks and arms,
capped heads and hips hugged tight.
Clump of boots, rubber on tile. Someone
bums a light, smiles, buys me a drink.
Foam overflows over the sink. We cheers.
I catch a wink from the scruff
who bought the beer. Thick rope
for forearms, damp pits, the stink
of days on the road. I know he’ll take me
home. A motel off the highway, soaked
in sand. His hands soft on my soft.
The moon peering in, already forgetting
us. The desert always drying up.
John Byrne is queer writer from Nebraska, currently living in Charleston, South Carolina, where he received his MFA in poetry at the College of Charleston. His work is published in Hobart, Rejection Letters, Blood Orange Review, The Journal, and elsewhere.