PAYDAY

In the dust, we stand watching the year roll on
big wheels, pull away slowly at first, leaving
tracks of winter-feeding when there was no rain,

clutch of neighbors branding, our gather, wean
and sort, each diesel leans into a season past—
a caravan, a shiny train down roads that grow

farther away. Confused as children in the chute,
eyes adjusting to a dark door, ears to the
unfamiliar, panicked slip-and-clatter of hooves

on a metal floor, they load to ride standing—
hills of home forever fading within portholes,
when would never choose to leave that way.

Check on the pickup seat, beer in the ice chest,
we slap the last semi-trailer on the ass and toast
them instead, find shade to reweigh a year’s pay.

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