A Walk to Tennessee

Jack Heerema

If wandering eyes are drawn to silver 

this feeling in my fingers is just courtesy 

When I wander in libraries 

Past aisles of books to teach some full-blown empathy 

I think of houses built on stone 

And mausoleums filled with bones 

Tied in ribbons and in bows 

Wearing shoes I bought on loan 

To walk to Tennessee 


Passing under Broadway lights 

With all my human rights laid out in front of me 

The aviator strikes a match 

And coffin makers fix the patch at the coffin factory 

The pistol in my hand 

Makes my legs feel more like sand 

A flame that is no longer fanned 

A one-man family band 

Who walks to Tennessee 


Skipping rope between two friends 

I watch their hands both twist and bend until they frighten me 

And playing cards with a like-mind 

Who will gladly take the time to be my enemy 

I turn the pistol to the sky 

Catch the coffin maker’s eye 

The bows have all become untied 

The book has just one word inside 

And it reads Tennessee. 

Spring 2021