After Four Years There, I Decide to Get a Phone
by Samuel Prestridge

Where people get, no owls stay, a quibbling
I picked with night, when further down the road
the new guy hauled in lights, a trailer, bull-dozed
his land, bought pit bulls, started raising rabbits.

No one’s here but me. Still, he posted signs.
What did he expect? By definition,
I couldn’t ask. I gave up all he’d torn
from owlless night, yearned toward their absence

as though owls could give a piddling damn.
Not them, so much, I yearned toward. The texture
of the dark had changed. Since last winter,
coyoteless. I missed them in the abstract:

Romance as a tribal dog, I said, but really,
I didn’t care. They never sounded sad.
Just low-down and hungry. But after
the owls, darkness felt like stamp collecting.

I read. Drank. Became Episcopalian
from wariness of sensory withdrawal.
Then, my neighbor, survivalist cliché,
came by--big hat, mirror shades, holstered pistol--

and asked me to put up a mailbox. Sure
I said, Point where. I knew, though, that I wouldn’t,
which left us there, his right hand on his gun
butt, mine on the latch of the screen door.

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