Never have a town named after you.
You may have been a premature eman-
cipator, officer, explorer. Scoundrel,
presidential candidate. None of it means
to kids raised in that mouth-sound of your name
reduced to goose shit by the alkahest of time,
strewn around the paths of a man-made lake
or steamed to fearful showers after gym,
wild oat and rabbitfoot in shortcut fields,
the algae trickle in a drainage trough,
owl pellets dissected under schoolyard oaks.
No way to manage your denaturing
into muskrats lurking under pontoon docks,
hotboxed cars and lipglossed cocks, dead ends.
Ray Nayler is a diplomat with the U.S. Department of State, currently posted to Saigon. Over the past decade, he has lived and worked in Moscow, and in every country that ends in ‘stan except Pakistan and Uzbekistan. Ray has poetry published or upcoming in the Beloit Poetry Journal, Juked, Able Muse, PiF Magazine, Eclectica, and in Sentence: A Journal of Prose Poetics.