Pledging Allegiance To The Middle Finger 

Tom Hunley 

After floating from dive bar to dive bar

a windblown hamburger wrapper
Tom rests finally
in a graveyard on the outskirts of Seattle 


After he discovered punk rock
the only flag he pledged allegiance to

was the middle finger
which he would give to Death
if someone would raise him up
the way they lifted him
time and time again
from the scuffed mosh pit floor
until that fateful stage dive
that headlong leap out of the anarchy
of this world into a silence that filled him

as his head broke like a beer bottle 


Once he could taste pizza in his mouth all weekend

remember for years the flicking of a woman’s tongue

in his ear and hear the whirring
of a saw mill in the distance 


Once he could hear the chirring
of crickets on a windswept hillside
the sighs of tires the groans of brakes
faraway on a freeway
arranging themselves somehow into four chords 


Now he can’t hear screeching guitar feedback

taste PBR smell sweat and vomit see the bass

player’s red hi-tops, the breathtaking singer’s

breasts rising and falling with the beat 


He won’t even see your graffiti on his headstone
but he’d want you to spray paint your little punk heart out



Tom Hunley's the author of two textbooks, six chapbooks, and five full-length poetry collections, most recently THE STATE THAT SPRINGFIELD IS IN (Split Lip 2016).  In 2015, Southern Illinois University Press released Creative Writing Pedagogies for the Twenty-First Century, which Tom co-edited with Alexandria Peary. Tom's a father of four, a professor in the MFA and BA Creative Writing programs at Western Kentucky University, and the director of Steel Toe Books. In his spare time, he sings and plays guitar for Night of the Living Dead Poets Society and Dr. Tom and the Mini-Mes.