Issue > Poetry
Roger Jones

Roger Jones

Roger Jones teaches in the M.F.A. creative writing program at Texas State University in San Marcos. He has published two collections of poetry, with a third shortly forthcoming. He has published widely for a quarter century in various journals, including Southern Poetry Review, Hawaii Review, Texas Review, Modern Haiku, and others.

King Of The Factory

Small hat cocked on his head, gold front tooth
gleaming, Mertis eases among the racks of flower pots.
With his ultra-soothing glide, he seems to rise
over the pettiness, anger, dust, heat, stink
and degradation of the plant, and work we do,
his natural grace my model, though it could never be
copied. But I watch him anyhow—how he moves
day to day, toothpick in his mouth, ambling back and forth
from rack to press, and keeps the production line going
while women at the presses wipe brows on rags
steeped in diesel, and curse the bosses, the pay, the men
back on loading dock, the clay workers who splash
gas in their faces. Mertis tends to them, serene,
smiling. At last buzzer, he washes up in the restroom,
whistling. "Another day, another dollar," he says to whomever.
Pause. "And that's just about it, too.

Old Fashioned Telephone

Voices crackling back along the party line:
"Power's out down here, too" –
old Louie Terrell, up at his timbered lot.

A stormy April night.
We're by transistor radios, alone,
eager to see where bad weather's headed —

eight dark houses, up and down
a dirt road that dead ends at Bewley's farm.
Mrs. Estes chiming in, "I heard

there was a twister down in Dalby."
Then Mack Roberts: "something in it.
Sure been wild down here."

Back and forth, like a current,
the news in the dark
running its route, while candle-flames at home

leap and waggle in the window pane,
one wide pine outside profiled black
in lightning's shine, and bullet rain.