What It Takes Here
Are folks who bust their knuckles
in factories and drive trucks to Chicago.
Girls kiss their traditional boys
under the Thumbs of fathers
and try to escape West.
They come back to where porch doors
slam shut in the summer.
And I see the limestone off I94 is still used
in the Midwest for its buildings,
dug out from a hole by souls
who fill it with work and religion.
And when you look out over Lake Michigan,
you see that long expanse our souls long to have.
To love in a mill town is to wear
Levis to bed,
to kiss, before calluses grow thick,
to shuck it, with boots on.
W.K. Buckley teaches in the English Department at Indiana University Northwest. He is the author of Lady Chatterley’s Lover: Loss and Hope (Macmillan, 1993) and is published widely in journals including Abiko Quarterly, The Café Review, Main Street Rag, Lynx Eye, Coe Review, New Orleans Review, Left Curve, and California Quarterly. Modern Poetry’s “Best Chapbook of the Year” for 1997 was awarded to his By the Horses before the Rains and his work has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. His Lost Heartlands Found (2004) and On Heartland Soils (2005) were published by Pudding House Publications.