Richard Luftig

Morning Comes to Iowa

The IGA opens at five

for the women who drive

the school bus to get their supplies:

they and their husbands up at four


to listen to the weather report-

more important right now

than farm prices—to hear if

the blizzard has set in yet


and if the outer-county

roads are likely to be plowed.

And for what’s left of the first

shift who’s sweating the layoffs


at the veneer plant over in Waterloo,

out past the half-empty grain elevator

and rusting water tank at the edge

of town, an hour’s drive from anywhere


even when the roads are clear.

Guys who knew more about combines

than union contracts before the corn

prices went south and drove them


into the red for good. Or for what’s left

of last year’s senior class still in town

and working at the Home Depot and Best Buy

thirty miles away where the highway cuts


an interchange, they now coming in

to fill their 44-ounce mugs

with coffee black as Quaker State

or Monster Drink caffeined enough


to give a heartbeat to the dead,

holding a donut in each hand

and the belief that a good breakfast

makes for a balanced life.


©2015 Richard Luftig

Richard Luftig is a former professor of educational psychology and special education at Miami University in Ohio now residing in Pomona, CA. He is recipient of the Cincinnati Post-Corbett Foundation Award for Literature and a semi-finalist for the Emily Dickinson Society Award. His poems have appeared in numerous literary journals in the United States and internationally in Japan, Canada, Australia, Europe, Thailand, Hong Kong and India.