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Red Dirt Jesus is a triptych of harsh landscapes where a man reflects on what he has gained, what he is offering, and what he must lose. It begins with the relationship between father and son that delicately hinges on the tension between hills and ditches, between past and fiction, between throat and gut. Later the speaker is alone, trying on several narrative personas in order to chisel out an understanding of who he is as he moves away from the delicate and airborne. His story is one of dirt, dust, spit, and bone, and he finds solace in grit, knowing that things can only get worse if he lets them. In the end, McManus articulates the understated victory of giving in rather than giving up. As the speaker finds the distant acceptance of stone and rot, he realizes that the body breaks but the spirit doesn't.