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By Thomas Lux

It’s the little towns I like

with their little mills making ratchets

and stanchions, elastic web,

spindles, you

name it. I like them in New England,

America, particularly-providing

bad jobs good enough to live on, to live in

families even: kindergarten,

church suppers, beach umbrellas … The towns

are real, so fragile in their loneliness

a flood could come along

(and floods have) and cut them in two,

in half. There is no mayor,

the town council’s not prepared

for this, three of the four policemen

are stranded on their roofs … and it doesn’t stop

raining. The mountain

is so thick with water parts of it just slide

down on the heifers—soggy, suicidal—

in the pastures below. It rains, it rains

in these towns and, because

there’s no other way, your father gets in a rowboat

so he can go to work.


Thomas Lux, “It’s the Little Towns I Like” from New and Selected Poems: 1975-1995. Copyright © 1997 by Thomas Lux. Used by the permission of Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.

Source: Poetry (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 1980)

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Poet Bio

Thomas Lux
Born in Northampton, Massachusetts, Thomas Lux’s poetry often deals with life’s tragedies, but usually employs an ironic humor. He published numerous books of poetry including Split Horizon, which won the Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award. Lux taught at Sarah Lawrence College.

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