Aden Thomas

He Runs into the Wind


This is not a Wyoming

love story. There are

no beautiful sunsets here,

no, not in this tale;

no cowboys and cowgirls

dressed up like mannequins

in a Wrangler store,

no flash where your grandfather caught

your grandmother’s eye

at some dinner party

out on the deck at someone’s ranch.


There’s just an oil field

in a shallow ocean of sagebrush

somewhere on the reservation

under the stubble of moonlight,

where two drunk teenagers

are having sex like frenzied jackrabbits

in the back of a car.


Years later, that oil-field child,

feels the tar flowing through him.

His heartbeat is trapped below the ground.

He runs through thunderstorms

chasing the forks of lightning,

trying to set his blood on fire

to show he matters to the world.


There’s no catching him,

no stopping him.


He runs into the wind.



Young Like You


There is a single road.

Where it leads, you already know.

I don’t have to say.


Even the clouds get tipsy there,

drinking up the sunset’s citrus glow.

They taste and swirl and wander.


You’re going to want to follow

and take that road too soon,

but stay for a while and listen


to the birds singing in the distance

and the river whispering near the trees.

Listen and they’ll tell you their life stories,


how once they were wings

and waters young like you,

wanting to go farther

where the treetops reached the open sky;


how they wished they’d stilled themselves,

let the breeze

find them along its way.





Alabama, the middle of summer,

somewhere near Birmingham.

I’m seventeen, working for my father,

So far from the dry heat of Wyoming,

my insides sweat.


From the cab of his truck, I watch him

on his phone, pacing along the highway,

hands gyrating, raging at someone

on the other side of that call.


The other semis swerve to miss

as he strays onto the highway.

He’s in his fire cocoon again,

the anger wrapping itself around him

so tight that to get him out

it’s going to take a winged explosion.


And then it comes. He screams and swears

and shatters the phone against the asphalt.

He climbs into the cab, announces he’s quitting again.

We drive to a pay phone at a truck stop

to call another moving company.

The next day, we’re on our way

to pick up a load in Tuscaloosa.


Twenty years later,

I’ll be back in Wyoming,

standing there at the steps

of my ex-wife’s house,

trying to pick up my kids.

My weekend. My right.


She won’t answer, and on

those steps, at that moment,

my father’s cocoon will find me

like it always does,

wrap itself around my heart,

and my pulse will start flapping

louder than the lighting of a fuse.


Then my body will supernova,

scattering a hundred thousand burning moths

into the summer sky,

enough to burn that house to the ground.

They will be my father’s moths, I know,

but they will be inescapable

as though my blood

carried the dust of their wings.


But now I’m back in my father’s truck

at seventeen.

My father stares out the window.

The engine roars.

“I can’t help it,” he says.  “Sometimes I can’t

control it when it comes.”

And then I say the only thing

I know to say:

“Dad, I think I understand.”




Aden Thomas grew up in central Wyoming. Previously, his work has been featured in The Inflectionist Review, Turtle Island, and Up The Staircase Quarterly.  His first collection of poems, What Those Light Years Carry was published by Kelsay Books in 2017. More at:

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