William Greenway



I can’t imagine, on this autumn morning,

ever waiting with my father 

on cold corners for school buses,

much less hugging him

goodbye as I do my daughter.

(O lucky, lucky bus 

to get to enfold her body

into your own.)

Seems like everybody does it

these days, even jocks. 

That kid there, as tall, hugs 

his old man, and gets hugged 


Only as he lay dying

did he reach 

for my hand.  

After the bus leaves, 

I walk back home alone, along a path

already white with frost.



Near Florence

for Sherry


My niece and her husband lived 

in what they called a double-wide, 

but what I call a trailer, plopped down

as if by tornado on red dirt

in the middle of loblolly pines.

Though she’d had a good home 

and good schooling, she still chose 

to marry him, and live amidst 

his many third-place motocross trophies. 

And so I thought, well, 

that’s it then.

But when their baby came

I had to see this child 

because she bore the blood 

of my only sister who’d died young.

So I flew down to Birmingham

and drove two hours towards 

“Alabama’s Renaissance City”

just to hold her all Saturday afternoon 

on a battered couch, watching Batman.

At three I helped him cook “supper,”

watched as he stacked coals, sprayed

lighter fluid, lit them, sprayed more 

lighter fluid on the conflagration as I 

inched my ass farther up the back steps 

so that maybe I wouldn’t die in the explosion,

only be maimed, disfigured, 

but maybe worth it to incinerate

the idiotic father.

But he brought the “burgers” in safely,

and though I tried to douse the gasoline taste

with ketchup, mustard, onions,

it did no good, and so I ate the raw 

and napalmed meat for her, the way 

Petrarch kept writing his poems

for Laura even after she was dead,

the way Dante, his love taken

by the slow fire of decay,

fed forever after on the flames.


Will Greenway’s eleventh collection, Selected Poems, was the Poetry Book of the Year Award winner from FutureCycle Press, and his tenth collection, Everywhere at Once, won the Poetry Book of the Year Award from the Ohio Library Association, as did his eighth collection, Ascending Order. The latter two are from the University of Akron Press Poetry Series. His work has appeared in Poetry, American Poetry Review, Southern Review, Georgia Review, Southern Poetry Review, Prairie Schooner, Poetry Northwest, and Shenandoah. His awards include the Helen and Laura Krout Memorial Poetry Award, the Larry Levis Editors’ Prize from Missouri Review, the Open Voice Poetry Award from The Writer’s Voice, the State Street Press Chapbook Competition, an Ohio Arts Council Grant, an Academy of American Poets Prize, and he has been named Georgia Author of the Year. He is Distinguished Professor of English Emeritus at Youngstown State University.

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