Up comes
stem and stem, sweet fragrance persisting
as sweat traces my spine. Up come the struggles
of my parents. Up comes the depression
of my grandmothers. Up come the sins of this
country. Up comes the hunger of the world.
Into the tall brown bag goes everything I pull
up, everything I did not plant but must tend.

from “Deracination”

Whether nature or nurture, we are who we are because of everything that’s come before. Unfortunately, sometimes that all adds up to a load of shit. Sometimes we are stuck assuming that we can actually change ourselves – that we have some ability to be who we have never been. For better or worse, your past is exactly why who you are. It means that while you might not always be better than your past, you are at least willing to consider it as context for the future.

Megan Neville’s Rust Belt Love Song (Game Over Books) is a cautious stroll through all that life has been. It’s the subtle, sing-song approach that makes you want to listen – to care about this speaker. To want them to find love, find solace, find something that might at least give them pause to smile. It’s what happens when “Punctuation cuts in; pause here please.” It’s knowing that it was okay to not want to be royalty. To, instead, want it to be Halloween – to want the ability to wear Vulnerable as a mask without any consequence of laughter.

It’s the want for “delivery straight from lips / to ear so close I can feel / quivering words darting / back from cheeks….” Just something easy – a sunday morning feeling with a little twist of whisky for the bad memories. It’s the ever present thought that maybe you “never came home / from Kansas City at all.”

Purchase your copy of Rust Belt Love Song from Game Over Books.

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