The American Journal of Poetry
"Strong Rx Medicine"®


Robert Carney

Since They Ran Out of Money in Pleasant Grove,


the city quit trapping raccoons,

stopped taking them back to the woods.


“For crap’s sake,” a councilman wondered,

“what’s that cost in gas?”


The Slurpee expenses didn’t help things either. That part

was probably my fault: I’m the driver,


and when I get thirsty, it’s Slurpees all around.

My mom was always big on sharing.


Don’t blame me for the rest of it, though.

Shooting raccoons in your yard seems, I don’t know, dumb.


Yeah, sure, there are fines involved if bullets

travel off your property,


but how is that supposed to fix the budget?

Everyone here’s a perfect shot.




Robert Carney



It’s farther to Tacoma on the bus

because of Oregon. At least it was


the year I made the trip, boarding in Denver

just ahead of afternoon storms stirred


by the Rockies: June heat rising into clouds.

And the bus was like a storm front too, that loud,


and heavy with the smells of traveling.

Sweat. The clothes you’ve slept in. Arguing.


Leaving Idaho, we took to roads

sliced through wheat fields, kept stopping to unload


the mail—no kidding—canvas bags of it

left by the driver alongside ditches.


How lonely is that? I couldn’t tell you.

But this is what it takes to grow our food.




ROBERT CARNEY is the author of four books of poems, most recently 88 Maps (Lost Horse Press 2015). In 2014, Wesley McNair selected him for the Robinson Jeffers/Tor House Foundation Poetry Prize. His work has appeared in Cave Wall, Mid-American Review, Terrain: A Journal of the Built and Natural Environments, and dozens of other journals. He lives in Salt Lake City.



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