The string bean white kid
head-bangs to Green Day
in the cab of the tractor.

Corn dust rises and floats
over the interstate, a gold
horizon. He’ll never admit

to loving this band, since
he’s pretty sure they’re over,
but the blur of chords

and the repetition, the drive
of the once cool singer
before he went blond and political

is like the John Deere itself
hammered down, the fuzz
of dust over the rented land,

and the girl his heart races to
at school, who’ll go to college,
he knows, and learn the names

of bands too real to record,
too cutting edge to even form.
He cranks the volume louder.

He’s pretty sure he’s losing
his hearing, but wants to feel
the bones vibrate, his skull

expand, as he swings the chute
and lets it blast, and chops
the world he knows to silage.

Max Garland is the author of The Word We Used for It (from which this poems is taken), winner of the 2017-18 Brittingham Prize. Previous books include The Postal Confessions. Originally from Kentucky, he is professor emeritus at UW-Eau Claire, a former writer in residence for the city of Eau Claire, and the former poet laureate of Wisconsin.

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