Naming the Local Gods | Rita Mae Reese

Turkeys of Atwood, you are what’s wrong with America,
or maybe just Wisconsin, or maybe Madison, or maybe just me.
At first, I named you Lorrine, Lynda, Max, and Lorrie
and gently lifted you to browse each Little Free Library,
fed you Gail Ambrosius chocolates
but my neighbor with the ancient dog and the MIA flag tells me
you have chased women home at night
with your beady Nixon eyes and McConnell wattles;
with your prehistoric feathered bulk
and faces only a founding father could love,
you have stood in the intersections
refusing to budge, making the grocer late for work
and all of our children late for school.
He has named you Koch, Walker, Ryan, and Koch.
Even from his front porch, we can see
the cars backed up for miles,
each one hitched to everything else in the universe.

          Rita Mae Reese

Rita Mae Reese is the author of The Alphabet Conspiracy and a recipient of numerous awards, including a Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers’ Award, a Stegner fellowship, a “Discovery”/The Nation award, and a Pamaunok Poetry Prize. Her most recent book, The Book of Hulga,won the Felix Pollak Prize and will be published by the University of Wisconsin Press. Visit her at

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