Three excerpts from Brazil, Indiana (a folk poem)

A jar of fireflies
on a shelf abandoned
years ago to dust
gives this place

a barn washed in the blood

a pulsing glow
a guy could read by
if he was carrying a book.

But I brought something else
to share out of a different jar.

It only tastes like nails
going down.


Despite the Classical Revival
courthouse along the National Road

that ran through the middle of town
and the Classic Rock

station down in the static
at the low end of the FM radio dial

Brazil didn’t even
show up as a dot on most

AAA or free gas station maps
of Indiana.

Civic leaders blamed our renowned
high school mascot, the Devil.


The green brass plaque above
the high school gym doors
misspelled the name of
our town’s 1932 Olympian.

So kids always said.

The Fuqua family moved
away that same summer
their record-breaking son Ivan
won gold in track and field

out there in Los Angeles.

As far as anybody knows,
he’s still running somewhere.


Brian Beatty’s jokes, poems, and stories have appeared in numerous print and online publications, including McSweeney’s, The Glasgow Review of Books, and Seventeen. His chapbook, Coyotes I Couldn’t See, will be published by Red Bird Chapbooks in 2016. His writing has also been featured in public art projects and on public radio. A native of Brazil, Indiana, he’s lived in Minnesota since 1999.


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