BJ Ward

Winter: 6 a.m. Shift: Leaving to Work

You don’t
say things like
the car with the gas in it
because it’s your only car
The sky is full of blues.
Every star is a wound—
not an exit wound,
 but an entrance wound of you
getting into a day.
The whole sky depends
on your not missing
this shift.
Your mother arrived
half asleep
to watch the brat you love
 and would die for.
She’s giving
birth to you again, you think,
as you string your car
 along the anguish of the road.
Almost out of gas, you pull in
and count your money before pumping.
The attendant wakes from his nap.
You hand him the $4 you have.
He nods toward the horizon.
Gerna be a pretty sunrise, eh?
You nod back, get in the car.
As you accelerate toward work,
you hear the engine straining.
You realize you’re pulling
up the sun behind you.

BJ Ward has had recent poems published in Painted Bride Quarterly and Vox Populi. His most recent book is Jackleg Opera: Collected Poems, 1990 to 2013 (North Atlantic Books). A recipient of a Pushcart Prize and two Poetry Fellowships from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, he works at Warren Community College and has recently been a guest lecturer in Creative Writing at Lafayette College and DeSales University. In June 2021, he will join the faculty at The Frost Place Conference on Poetry and Teaching. His website is

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Winter 2021