Achilles in Jasper, Texas

Achilles in Jasper, Texas

I know this: a man walked home drunk
along the corduroy of pines
in west Texas, the bronze duff and

the dust and the late light that fell
on him. Three men gave him a lift

that afternoon and raised him
with their fists and lowered
him with their nigger this and

nigger that and after a while,
when all the fun they could have

with him leaked out into
the ruts of a logging cut,
they tied him to the boat

hitch of their truck and pulled
away. I know he kept his head up

awhile because his elbows were
ground to the bone; I know enough
was finally enough, and his head

left his body behind,
but I don’t know what to do

with this, America, this rage
like Achilles twitching
Hector behind his chariot

for 12 days until even
the gods were ashamed.

–Jeffrey Thompson
2008 Split This Rock Adult Poetry Festival Winner

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