Jim Whiteside

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Jim Whiteside


A bar built on stilts
to avoid the river when it floods.
The bottle caps, dropped and lost
beneath a bench, old Pabst signs,
a clock that doesn’t work.
The ginkgoes lining Holbrook Avenue,
the gust of wind that runs
through them, leaves falling
all at once. The Gem Theater,
its empty marquee, broken neon.
Old posters in the attic:
               Star Wars: A New Hope
               The King and I
               See Doris Day in
               The Glass Bottom Boat
The season’s last load of soybeans,
processed and loaded on a barge.
The light in the parking lot
that will stay on all winter,
waiting for spring
when the seasonal labor,
my uncle and his friends,
will come back. The empty houses,
the house where my father grew up,
overgrown with vines.
The vines that have grown
around each gutter and pillar,
the porch railings and sills,
taking the shape of a house.
The plastic nativity in front
of the public library, lit by
bulbs inside so you can see them
from the road. Those bright faces
circled with gold.

Jim Whiteside reads “Inventory”

Jim Whiteside is the author of a chapbook, Writing Your Name on the Glass (Bull City Press, 2019) and is a former Wallace Stegner Fellow in Poetry at Stanford University. He is the recipient of a Tennessee Williams Scholarship from the Sewanee Writers’ Conference and a residency from the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts. Jim’s recent poems have appeared in The New York Times, Poetry Magazine, Ploughshares, The Southern Review, Best New Poets 2020, and Boston Review. Originally from Cookeville, Tennessee, he holds an MFA from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and lives in Brooklyn, New York.