a. Driving Home from the Night Shift, Our Mother
    Listens to Hank Williams’ “Lost Highway”

She cracks the window,
letting the cold air

slap her awake. Cranking
the radio, she sings

along as she leans
into the burn of Tiger

Balm, her shift,
like her body, a sharpening

of drill bits, the break
room doors. Soon,

she’ll enter the house
before anyone is awake.

This is her time
when everything is still,

when she could be
anything—a thief,

a mouse. Alone,
she’ll wipe coffee rings

from counters, scrub
sinks, floors. Love,

she’d tell you, is work, and work
is what remains

when she leans into
a sleep she can

almost taste, when
our father like the dawn

rises to slip
his arm around her waist.



b. My First Boyfriend and I Slow Dance to Jeff Buckley’s
    Cover of Hank Williams’ “Lost Highway”

This new voice is the old
voice of wanting

what you already have.
It marks me like

pressed hands in wet
cement, leaves me

warm against a boy
in a dorm room

damp with the musk
of hair gel,

drugstore rubbers
and knock-off Calvin Klein.

This is not romance.
This is not a story

of easy need, though
there’s cheap beer

on the dresser,
rumpled white sheets

on his unmade bed.
Anything could happen—

his mother could call,
his roommate

could walk in the door, or
we could flinch,

dropping down as we inch
into each other, the track

on repeat: Now, boys, don’t
start your ramblin’ round . . .



c. Encore: Months Before His Overdose, Hank Williams Sings “Cold,
    Cold Heart” in 1952 on The Grand Ole Opry—YouTube, 2021

Here, as if brought to
life, the echo of some

lost world: this skinny
lightning-voiced angel

with his white cowboy
hat askew. Like death,

the internet, I’ve read,
is a ghostly well,

ever-expanding grave-
yard of last breaths.

Is this, at last, what
we’re meant to become—

Hank’s blazing eyes,
soulful black windows?

He sings and sings,
Byzantium’s golden bird.

Or is this Christ’s after-
life, gates ajar? Now,

colorless, Hank strums
his phantom guitar.

He stares. He blinks
and grins. He feels no pain.

Strange beauty in the lie,
this screen between

what’s twice alive but
dead, what never ends.

When he stops, I click
back: he sings again.


Bruce Snider is the author of three poetry collections, Fruit (University of Wisconsin Press, 2020); Paradise, Indiana (Pleiades Press, 2013); and The Year We Studied Women (University of Wisconsin Press, 2003). He is also co-editor of The Poem’s Country: Place & Poetic Practice (Pleiades Press, 2018). The recipient of a 2023 NEA fellowship, he lives in Baltimore and teaches in the Writing Seminars at Johns Hopkins University.