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© Dr. Richard L. Luftig

Richard's email

In Kadoka, South Dakota,
the main business of town is dying.
The worn-out, flat-front, sand-stone
stores huddle and shield their faces
from a constant, grinding wind.

The town lists to railroads, itís back
pressed flush to rusting tracks, waiting
for trains that wonít come anymore.
Out from Kadoka, the ribbon roads

crease black and empty fields,
land so flat you can drop a line
and weight and come up plumb
crazy from the straightness of it all.
Those roads run east to the end

of town where buildings straggle
and fade into fence posts and winter
wheat. Or west, past where the town
used to be, out to the highway lined
with truck stops full of placemat ads

for Yogi Bear Campgrounds and Badland Motels.
The graduating class, this year just twelve,
drive dusty brown beaters or trucks tuned
to the country station in Pierre, heading
to Denver or Cheyenne, or wherever

there's work. Old people sit and watch
the blacktop roads buckle and roll
against August. They count time
by quarter hours and moons and wait
for cars passing through to anywhere.

"Kadota" was previously published in Wisconsin Review.

Agnes at 100

© Dr. Richard L. Luftig

I always thought that I would grow
into my motherís face.
I wanted to see what God
intended me to look like,
more out of curiosity than anything else.
I hope he appreciates the joke.

I can remember my mother warning me
that I was plain, not nearly pretty
enough to attract a man
and maybe she was right but look-
thereís something to be said for homeliness.
Itís a damn sight easier to maintain than beauty.
Lasts a lot longer too.

In the end, gravity always wins.

Itís not that Iím afraid of deathó
more like Iím not all that interested
in the topic one way or the other.
Iíve simply learned that age rests
on oneís shoulder like a quiet bird,
not tame but not exactly timid either.

"Agnes at 100" first appeared in Sierra Nevada College Review and was reprinted in Pudding House