Paper mill at the edge of town known
mostly for its stench, hires and lays
off more workers than anywhere
in the county. Many forests down.
Thousands more acres of owls to go.

There are more meth addicts
doing shift work here than any other
job state-wide. Men and women
wanting to see god once before they die
to be sure the next life
isn’t the same as this one.
How many rough lungs?
How many bulging spines?

Steam rises into weather
like the middle finger of fate.
Output is up. No pink slips this season.
Cigs and whiskey at the Convenience Store
on the wrong way home
to empty rooms again.

Some wasted millwright pulls over
on the side of a logging road.
Draws apologies on the backs of bills.
Tucks them randomly into the crooks
of trees as high as he can reach.
Maybe birds read them, maybe
rain. Maybe a dream reads them.
A dream that has learned to read