Devin Kelly




Reasons to Quit


after Terrance Hayes

When I finally move from the backseat
to the front, my pops thumbs the knob
and turns through the songs of Willie Nelson.

He never promised to leave me anything.
Not the monogrammed cowboy boots
he can’t fit a foot inside. Not the slick roads

we travel this night to look for mom.
When no one is awake, it sometimes seems
you have been given a second chance.

Not because the shadows have come
to darken a world for you to hide in, but because
for a bare millisecond you are bathed

in the glow of a streetlight you pass under
and you wonder if your pops will die
before you are ready. Mom is out there

somewhere. We find her later, asleep
in the backseat of her car, thirty miles
northeast of the city. And nothing

will wake her. Not the tires slick
wicking on the slick roads. Not the mumbled
groan of Willie singing we keep rollin

down the fast lane, two young men feelin
no pain
. Years later, my pops will tell me
there are no reasons to quit, just before

I toe a line and ready myself to run
across a field. But tonight, before we
find her, pops pinches the hairs

on my chubby legs and moans joking
with the song he might’ve once
fell crying asleep to and the roads

turn along the creek with the water
lapping at its sides and everything
is at once beautiful and beyond.

You see now why I can’t stand
the thought of losing anything.
It was too much fun before the sorrow

came. By the time we find her, it’s almost 
morning, and everything is so close
to being illuminated, and so close to being gone.