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By B. H. Fairchild

Elliot Ray Neiderland, home from college   

one winter, hauling a load of Herefords   

from Hogtown to Guymon with a pint of   

Ezra Brooks and a copy of Rilke’s Duineser   

Elegien on the seat beside him, saw the ass-end   

of his semi gliding around in the side mirror   

as he hit ice and knew he would never live   

to see graduation or the castle at Duino.

In the hospital, head wrapped like a gift

(the nurses had stuck a bow on top), he said

four flaming angels crouched on the hood, wings   

spread so wide he couldn’t see, and then

the world collapsed. We smiled and passed a flask   

around. Little Bill and I sang Your Cheatin’   

Heart and laughed, and then a sudden quiet   

put a hard edge on the morning and we left.

Siehe, ich lebe, Look, I’m alive, he said,   

leaping down the hospital steps. The nurses   

waved, white dresses puffed out like pigeons

in the morning breeze. We roared off in my Dodge,   

Behold, I come like a thief! he shouted to the town   

and gave his life to poetry. He lives, now,   

in the south of France. His poems arrive   

by mail, and we read them and do not understand.


B. H. Fairchild, “Angels” from The Arrival of the Future. Copyright © 2000 by B. H. Fairchild. Reprinted with the permission of Alice James Books.

Source: The Arrival of the Future (Alice James Books, 2000)

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Poet Bio

B. H. Fairchild
B. H. Fairchild was born in Houston, Texas. Throughout high school and college he worked for his father, who was a lathe machinist. He received his BA from the University of Kansas and his PhD from the University of Tulsa. Many of his poems take place in the Midwest and contain a blue-collar sensibility. Fairchild’s work has also been published in the New Yorker, the Paris Review, as well as numerous other publications. See More By This Poet

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