Joshua Robbins


Stranded along the interstate
          and hoping the red blinking
                    might be a far-off sheriff's

cruiser and not the sleepy
          Morse of hazard bulbs
                    on empty grain silos,

their spent concrete stave
          shadows braced hard
                    against the tired lean

of wrack-framed barns,
          I sift the radio's slow
                    fade: '70s AM

starlet belting something
          like, "It's no use,"
                    the signal sputtering

further into white noise
          with each tractor-trailer
                    grinding by.

Across acres of flat,
          the Kansas dusk drops
                    its dusty partition

of crop chemicals, exhaust
          from pickups headed home,
                    and I stare out the grimed windshield

watching a black scrim
          of starlings scatter,
                    re-collect over

the highway's ditch. Again
          and again they lift up,
                    a fist in the dry wind,

and return broken
          to the prairie's dull ache.
                    When darkness falls, they'll fly

off for the horizon, the edge
          of a distant field, settle there
                    among the dirt, the chaff.

Joshua Robbins is the author of Praise Nothing (University of Arkansas Press, 2013). His recognitions include the James Wright Poetry Award, the New South Prize, selection for the Best New Poets anthology, and the 2013 Walter E. Dakin Fellowship in poetry from the Sewanee Writers' Conference. He teaches creative writing and literature at the University of the Incarnate Word in San Antonio. "Attrition" first appeared in Praise Nothing.

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