The bypass forms a half moon
around our sleepy town
and its unlit drama. Night-time
travelers lose themselves
in the neon of a pair of box stores,
a line of fast-food restaurants.

Some stop. Others just turn
heads back to the wide four-lane
that will take them to the thick
of Jonesboro or Memphis.
I never cross at the big light
where the new Hilton rests

large and gray on the bare ridge.
I take the hilly back road
where deer graze in early November,
scared up from the hunters
to the south. They bounce
across the blacktop in two leaps

like the country dance,
quick-quick slow-slow,
into the autumn dawn
where they forage for broadleaf
while the town lights
blink into being.


“Dave Malone’s poems insist we pay attention to the real workings of an unraveling world. Here he makes magic from a no-look pass, the quick drag from a Winston cigarette, and the ‘bullet holes in the shed.’

In Bypass, Malone writes the heartland as he knows it—the complications and simplicities, the victory and the elegy—then dares us to try and forget what he’s shown.”

—Elijah Burrell, author of TROUBLER