Indiana Education

Forget god, forget science,
forget art and philosophy.
This is a Chevy Camaro.
Read the shape of its quarter panels,

rounded like the hips of a woman
you love for the first time,
a chariot for mythmaking,
fit for a mechanic king.

This is a garage.
For every school, every library,
we have millions,
lined with tools of trade.

Pay attention.
This is a wrench, this is a sparkplug,
this is a four-barrel carburetor.

And don’t forget the verb—
garage your mind
in the collected works
of the Detroit Triumvirate,

restoring or rebuilding,
changing oil, washing, waxing,
buffing, doors rolled up and open,

a slab of night,
crickets, cicadas, sycamore trees
with stars in their limbs
like far-away headlights.

This is a socket, this is a spanner,
this the Swimsuit Issue.

This is how you wash
with pumice soap.
Watch the grease and grime
rinse from your hands.

The crossroads of America lead here,
Indiana cutting a garage in the country,
a garage, a shelter, a workbench set for you.



I didn’t want it,
hard against his abdomen,
purple and throbbing,
begging to be handled.
I didn’t want his body
against my body or
the Nintendo we could play after.
He and I were the same age,
the same quiet street.
My wants were sentimental.
I’ve spent years since with dead
philosophers spinning systems
from a simple commandment
I hope I die believing.
But how long will I live
with the tightness of his skin
on my skin, or with his grandma
suddenly there, at his door,
and the look of her eyes
trying to unsee.



A bird can never know
thirty-four can feel too young
to give up but too old for change.
Still mornings I walk
the riverbed with binoculars.
It’s sparrows and finches
mainly, a mockingbird
in an avocado tree.
If friends ask how
the writing is going, I’ll lie.
I’m thirty-four and starting a new
hobby. I’m St Francis but
the birds minister to me.


Andrew Beckner is a writer from central Indiana. He has published fiction, non-fiction, and prose poetry. His work has most recently appeared in or is forthcoming from Chicago Quarterly Review, Los Angeles Review of Books, LandLocked, and Sky Island Review, among others. He lives in Southern California, where he teaches composition and creative writing.