Despite the Classical Revival
courthouse along the National Road
that ran through the middle of town
and the Classic Rock
station down in the static
at the low end of the FM radio dial
Brazil didn’t even
show up as a dot on most
AAA or free gas station maps
Civic leaders blamed our renowned
high school mascot, the Devil.
I used to fall asleep
to the flapping of those colored flags
above the car dealership
at the corner of Highways 40 and 59.
They weren’t as bright at night
but the wind was as relentless as
a salesman walking the lot after dark
like a coyote with a month-end quota to make.
Almost everybody else complained
the plastic applause kept them awake
so I have no idea if they ever dreamed.
I’m still in love with mine.
We stood at the window watching
as every kid’s favorite school janitor
shoveled loose dirt onto a pile
of our outdated textbooks.
He was knee-deep in the ditch
where the woods began beyond
It was a perfect first funeral
for most of us — especially after
it started to rain.
Our teachers didn’t say a word.
They didn’t exist.
The school hired a magician who
brought an albino bunny for an assistant.
Its pink, unblinking eyes stared
through the children assembled there
in the auditorium as if that rabbit was
thinking of ways to disappear for good.
I would’ve been, in his cage — no matter
how chrome. Often I contemplated
the fire alarm and the dark woods looming
just beyond the playground. But I never dared.
I knew better. Or thought I did.
It was years before I understood regret.
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