by Joyce Carol Oates
All these decades we’ve been waiting here for you. Welcome!
You do look lonely.
No one knows you the way we know you.
And you know us.
Did you actually (once) tell yourself—I am better than this?
One day actually (once) tell yourself—I deserve better than this?
Fact is,you couldn’t escape us.
And we have been waiting for you. Welcome home!
Boasting how a scholarship bore you away
like a chariot of the gods except
where you are born, your soul remains.
We all die young here.
Not one of us outlived young here.
Check out obituaries
in the Lockport Union Sun & Journal.
Cancers of breast,
did I say over-
Filling up the cemeteries here.
Plastic trash here.
Unbiodegradable Styrofoam here.
Three-quarters of your seventh-
grade class now
in urns, ash and what remains
in red MAGA hats.
Those flashy cars
you’d have given your soul
to ride in,
just once, now
in tall grass.
Those eyes you’d
wished might crawl
upon you like ants,
of broken glass.
Atwater Park where
in obscure shame
and now whatever
his name who’d trampled
your heart, he’s
Proud as hell
of you though
never read a
We never forgave you. We hate winners.
Still, it’s not too late.
Did I say overdose?
Why otherwise are you here?
Last updated September 26, 2022