The 2River View

Gabriel Welsch

His One and Only


Here children spin
the grandstand’s neon exhaust —

grey girls wrap their hopes
around the sharp hips of boys

all limp hair and yellow teeth
sheened in midway grease,

mothers missing teeth,
arms lost in a low tide of blue tattoo.

Pixelated barkers call electric jungle
in concrete pavilions incandescent

with virtual glare and the gut-flayed
brackish water drains

near Fairgrounds Road where the spot
has never known light other than the sun.


High on his shoulder stares
a cross tattoo

mouth open, as if
stoned, operating

the kiddie train ride
at the county fair.

Vietnam Veteran hat,
Dickies chained to a wallet,

pockets crammed
with pens and folded

paper, Good Book bound
with a rubber band.

Forty-year buzz cut,
horse-kick under bite,

smile for every kid,
make sure they all sit,

hands on columns,
parents back, pull the lever,

watch the ride, wait for two
cycles of song.


This land of John 3:16
along the two-lane highway

where farmers build
Golgothas in miniature —

how they forget Christ’s story
hanged him with the same thieves

running the midway silver-
tongued in the shadow

of the funnel cake haus,
frothed in fryer steam,

before they smokebreak between
trailers, gravel pocked,

to press their bones against the next
girl with a nose stud,

cross flashing above the
shadowed cleft of her chest.

Gabriel Welsch is author of Dirt and All Its Dense Labor and the forthcoming An Eye Fluent in Gray. Recent work appears in Chautauqua, PANK, Southern Review, and West Branch. contact