Perhaps, from my youth, the coal
burning at Vernon
will give me cancer.  Perhaps
not.  Though
today, not far from there, I woke
to the rain
burning the road
and also
the chickens in their coop,
on this little farm.
More honestly, I woke
to something
screaming in the woods,
from the rain,
and saw the road,
the chickens’ yellow
and steam through the cages.

Joe Betz is a recent MFA graduate of the University of Missouri-St. Louis.  He is the 2009 Goldstein Prize winner, judged that year by Paul Muldoon, and is currently a small, literary cliché living in France for the year teaching English to elementary school students. You may find more of his writing here: