Tuesday, August 12, 2014

#BLauthor 11: Andrew Rihn

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#BLauthor11 is poet Andrew Rihn.

Andrew Rihn is a writer from Canton, OH.  He is the author of several chapbooks of poetry, including Foreclosure Dogs (Winged City Press), Outside the Clinic (Unlikely Stories), and The Hunger Dictionary (Night Ballet Press).  He works as a writing tutor at Stark State College.

Note: Winged City Press is another project by BL co-editor Teneice Durrant. She selected this Rihn poem for us; read about why below, and be sure to visit WCP, which publishes chapbooks of both fiction and poetry.

For now, here’s a new poem by Andrew:

Tow Truck

I wait for a call from dispatch,
for a familiar voice to give me
an unfamiliar address,
a location and a license plate.
I drive my rig to someone's failed
destination and this is my night:
the lonely drive
from unfortunate location
to unfortunate location,
call and response, call and response.
I won't see a single person
who is where they want to be,
not even when I check my face in the mirror.
Deflated tires, deflated drivers. People
who've parked their cars in the wrong lot.
If the engine won't turn over,
I'll always give it a second try
because I believe in second chances,
making peace with second wives,
second mortgages and second jobs.
When that doesn't work, I lower
the wheel lift, steel cradle for these broken
dreams.  The stranger climbs into
the passenger seat, says to me
My car died today,
or maybe yesterday; I can't be sure.
Sometimes I tell jokes.
Other nights I don't even respond.
Regardless, I deliver the people, the cars,
the wrecks.  Junk yards and chain link fences.
All night coffee shops and impound lots.
When I pull away, the wheel lift
looks like a cross upon the back of my rig.
It can bear the weight, I know.  But
can I bear the wait until this swing shift
comes to a standstill, a stoplight
for the empty conversation of other people's
problems?  I know an empty bed
is waiting for me like the linen and
chicken bones of St. Anthony's,
the water within the wine,
an appetite I no longer answer.
And I'm stuck here alone with lumbar pain
and a passenger I'll never see again.
And this is my night:
            the lonely drive.

Co-editor Teneice Durrant on “Tow Truck”: The poetry of Andrew Rihn has a way of illuminating, not by hard bursts of lightning, but by a slow ease of light that reveals every crease and nook of a devastating truth. Here in “Tow Truck” the speaker is our working-class Sisyphus, the out-and-back, the burden of failed destinations and the loss of one’s own journey weighing heavily in each line. Rihn has carefully wrought a kind of highway purgatory, and I’m struck by the harrowing realizations the speaker makes on his nightly treks.

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