Sports Utility Vehicles on flatbeds.
Abandoned basketball courts. Backboards
look down like judges robed in dead kudzoo.
The art of checking in to a hotel room.
Tricking the lady up front into putting incidentals
on the company card. The faded gray places
where there once was stark white lines
marking parking spaces. So many engines
designed around combustion sitting in rows.
Waiting to explode. To so much
‘I never could have imagined.’
That red Jeep Cherokee with the crumpled nose.
Just below a second story hotel room window.
Footsteps at six am, at seven cardoors slam.
And sleep. In a place I should not feel safe.
Where the keys are plastic
and so many strangers
also have them.
Yet. Here I am.
Drove down state and ended up a night at Comfort Inn Apalachin.
Just outside Endicott. The highway noise never stops.
New York mountains frame towns and keep them from being cities.
Waking up in April and the world outside is snow white.
I remember. The trucks that come for us.
When cars no longer drive.
What if it was more than an accent.
What if southern meant different color.
Dark brown bourbon skin.
Patch of red on the back of the head somewhere low about the neck.
Living up north like a sore thumb blends into a hand.
People can’t stand anything that reminds them of an experience they lack.
Prideful ignorance. Whole islands of sand to bury your head.
We call it rural America.
Main Street U.S.A.
See some places are places you go.
But a small town town is somewhere you stayed.
If my skin were different, not just my legato accent.
Not just my laid back, get to it tomorrow disposition.
But a different pigmentation in my skin.
Not even a totally different color.
Even just a slightly darker tinge.
What a question that is. How many people in this country
have not traveled enough to at some point in time been the minority.
For any reason at all. Big or small. Voice or opinion or skin color or sexual preference.
Or me. A southerner. Up north. Learning what all those boys
killing each other during the civil war
learned once they got up close. We’re not so different
as our representatives would like us to be.
The greatest unspoken fear of every political career
is that all us people ever get on the same team.
Which happens the moment our eyes really open.
Otherwise, America will live and die
no more than a dream.
White fields framed by nighttime trees. And city orange.
Awash in fluorescent yellow. Eyes can leap where feet will never go.
And leave oval footsteps in undriven snow. Covering many miles though.
Eyes begin to tread slow. Chug like four engines no lack of motive through frozen scenes.
Ice lined creeks and snow buried streams.
A pond any old sinner could walk on.
Stalked by great fractured double u’s formed of flocks of geese.
The hungry sound made by their thousands of beaks and wings.
Throats like hard rubber.
Navy blue cap pulled down over ears pierced by studded stars.
And that great gauged bone colored earlobe of a moon.
At the outset of winter. Seems the sun gets snuffed too soon.
Makes street lights sparkle embers on the ends of extinguished wicks.
A trickle of waxy smoke in our breath.
Town lights go on as far as eyes can see.
And stars. And snow fields. Stuck ponds.
And dark clouds that honk loud as cars.
They go on much farther.
Miles past eyes can see.
Short grass. Embedded yellow. Three leaves outspread.
And torn wax paper. And broke-leaning picnic table.
And gravel dented by tire tread. Leaves alive and dead.
Brown roots. Paled maize flowers misplaced by poplars.
and an unmade path to walk
and roadways to drive along.
To follow, so far, so long, not even seen like litter.
Buildings so full of people, from so many castes,
not viewed like trash. Light blue sharing violet
in pale cloud-filtered light, at the tip of a blade of grass.
Not a needle in a stack of hay, not one of the same
stacked one on top of another, but piles of pure plethora.
Plethora festering on plethora on plethora.
A cracked black plastic spoon.
A styrofoam corner. And me.
Shoe-wrapped feet, and seated body,
and black bag, and marble journal,
and phone whistling Modest Mouse.
Short grass, embedded with yellow,
and three leaves outspread.
All torn like wax paper.
All broke and leaning.
And I am writing.
What you are reading.
These longer days during summer somehow feel shorter,
yet weigh the same. Heavy bags beneath eyes.
Those lines formed on the sides of smiles or from frowning,
now drawn permanently arching parenthesis
like a frame around a painted mouth. Red,
or soft pink and sleek wormlike rippled skin of lips. Chapped,
licked seductively to find the salt of beaded sweat. Clamped,
beneath teeth in the grinding tense frictional symptom of concentration.
The weight of all these days to date, here, today,
born in the indented pool of an unseen lower back,
bone locked like knuckles wrapped in cartilage against knotted bone.
The bolt built of twisting nuts touches the big eared clown face
of that giant rattling calcium hip structure
to record the strenuous passing of time
more honestly than any calendar.