John Belk



There’s a ghost in the garage

who looks like my grandfather,

his lanky arm lowering a cigarette

in front of his ’56 Fairlane.


Right now he works on the carburetor,

but I couldn’t say exactly

what he’s trying to fix.


When he first showed up I tried talking to him—

a needy hello, a shout for attention.

At least once, I think, he said,



I cried both times he died:

in school when they told me

and again in my twenties

when Mom finally spoke of the farm—

the shotgun like a hollow leg he dragged around the yard,

the soft wet walls of the well where she hid—


But I’ll get past the failings

and like old times, think

                         “I’m glad he’s here—”


nothing.  A yellow note under a wiper blade,


                         She still won’t start.  I’m sorry,

                         you’ll let someone down too someday.


John Belk is an Assistant Professor of English at Southern Utah University where he directs the Writing Program. He holds an MFA in Poetry and a PhD in Rhetoric and Writing from Pennsylvania State University. His poetry has appeared in Arkansas Review, Wraparound South, Habitat, Levee Magazine, and Pivot, and his full-length manuscript was selected as a finalist for the 2018 Autumn House Press Poetry Prize. His scholarly work can be found in Rhetoric Review, Rhetoric Society Quarterly, Composition Forum, and edited anthologies.