Micki Blenkush·PoetryElegy for the Men of My Stepfather’s TownShareEvery time my stepfather asks if I remember Gordy or Lloyd or some other lifelong, small-town acquaintance — Dead, he’ll say, rolling his neckas he taps out a cigarette. What do they die of? Heart mostly. Congestion or lack. Weathered years in seed caps and pickup trucks.Larry who sold hardware went tethered to oxygen after the store burned to the ground.Calvin spent weeks measuring paneling to hang in my parents’ stairwell only to shoot himself in the head after he finished the job.Leroy the veterinarian, who drank coffee at our table after tending a cow’s mastitis sailed away on dementia’s slow raft.Some names I only pretend to recognize. Context of coffee shops so crowded we kids had to lean against the wall, picking sugar from our napkins.Others must have slipped without my notice. Mr. Munson, playground supervisor. Ferdie who delivered gas.Men who loomed old forty years ago. Men like dowels. Like mortar to brick.