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MacQueen’s Quinterly: Knock-your-socks-off Art and Literature
Issue 13: May 2022
Poem: 154 words [R]
By Jason Ryberg

Big Balls and All

Some days even the dirty backsides 
of old buildings have a sort of disheveled 
and crumbling beauty to them 
like neatly stacked heaps of scrap 
with sagging fire escapes and cracked, 
wire-mesh windows bursting forth 
with clots of bird’s nests, here and there: 
a small, man-made mountain range 
piled against a sweeping backdrop 
of clouds like drifting glacial masses 
and the sky all atomic swimming pool blue. 
And here, grazing in the foreground 
on the south side of Larry’s Auto Supply, 
looking like it could have been painted yesterday, 
the bull of an old Bull Durham Tobacco sign 
(big balls and all), recently uncovered, I’m told 
by some old boy in bib over-alls and muddy boots 
(with the steel toes showing through), 
when the building next to it got hit by lightning 
last month and burned down. Other than that, 
he says, been a pretty quiet summer. 


—Published previously in Outlaw Poetry (23 August 2018); appears here with poet’s permission.

Jason Ryberg
Issue 13, May 2022

is the author of fourteen books of poetry; six screenplays; a few short stories; a box full of folders, notebooks, and scraps of paper that could one day be (loosely) construed as a novel; and a couple of angry letters to various magazine and newspaper editors. He is currently an artist-in-residence at both The Prospero Institute of Disquieted P/o/e/t/i/c/s and the Osage Arts Community, and is an editor and designer at Spartan Books. His latest collection of poems, Are You Sure Kerouac Done It This Way!? (co-authored with John Dorsey, and Victor Clevenger), was published by AC Books in 2021.

Ryberg lives part-time in Kansas City, Missouri with a rooster named Little Red and a billygoat named Giuseppe, and part-time somewhere in the Ozarks, near the Gasconade River, where there are also many strange and wonderful woodland critters.

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