Who would have credited their late August collapse?
They flourish like jumpweed over these punishing summers,
or did do, adversaries going faint here alongside the river.
Eighteen-wheelers bust across the interstates, devouring horizon,
tuned to the one same station, signal fluttering
as this distressing tale unfolds, inning by inning, game by game.

Do you suppose, in the beginning, there was an actual Denny
for whom the tuna melts, iced tea and assorted sides
were meant as commemorative, an act of devotion?
Surely, someone has written on this subject at length.
But is it not pleasing to think of a corporeal Denny –
adored child, doting granny, down-home, deep-dish Salome –

living in one of those clapboard shitholes behind a silo,
playing at quoits, kibitzing, shrieking like an infidel set alight?
    – Skip, you must be as baffled as anyone?
The veteran field general gazes into the near distance.
You know this look: cerebral, resolute – contempt? –
big hair threatening to erupt from under his cap.

The cell is vibrating in his left front pants pocket:
three likelihoods, none of them at this moment inviting.
Who attends to these staged postmortems on TV:
inebriates, the eviscerati, Denny, you, me?
     – I wish I knew the answer to that one,
Pete. I do. I really, truly do.

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