Friday, January 03, 2014

Collections: Pandora's Box


At a gas station a few miles out of town,
a cur laps up the rainbow in a puddle. The girl
lays down some rules: the men I date know
I date other men. They don’t hafta like it.

At the bar, he watched her heave-ho hips.
Red-eyed truckers cranked on No-Doz,
diesel fumes barely blinked all night.
By last call, there was only one man standing.

The girl squints at the bloodshot sun, shoves on
dark glasses. Feet on the dash, she separates
each toe with cotton. When the man touches
the brakes, a swipe of red bloodies the balls.

They stop for coffee at the 7-11. She digs
in his pocket for the car keys, asks Can I drive?
They already know where. He’ll be her next exit,
nearest off–ramp, a neon sign she can’t wait to run.

Through that thrumming summer,
a tug of war waged in a hatchback,
a string of yeses pulled from a no.
The rear view mirrored the obvious—
the wrong choice always lets sorrow enter.
It persists like a hole under the scar’s layered skin.

You tell yourself it’s all over now, you’re healed.
The car’s been up on blocks for years, rusting
in the lot where you left it. Arteries of stars
smashed in a windshield, the radio ripped out,
wires dangling in your face like a dare—you open
the door, though you’re in no mood for a ride.

Not many ways out for the girl
whose tongue is a tangle of curses,
facedown in a backseat.

But this isn’t about love,
it’s about loneliness.
What is more real than skin?

A tangle of legs in dashboard light,
a violence of hips, and a knee
elbows the radio on. The song
breaks hearts all over America,
lyrics surging backward
down the spine of Route 301.

Objects are closer than they appear
in a night stalled with stars.

We were forever trying to lose ourselves.

The top was down, radio blasting,
we weren’t worrying about rogue stones or Bell’s palsy,

that whole catalogue of woe.

On a road where every turn was hairpin, delinquent
notes began to follow lyrics off cliffs, crashing

through chords that swelled like strings or another tumor.

Let’s chase the sun out of its sac,
your voice jittered above the wheel.

It was your song, so I didn’t try to stop you,
 though I knew

where you were headed

and the momentum it would take to get there.

We are Here.
There looks better,
though it could be a trick;
illusion, bad camera angles.

We won’t lose a thing
by going There. Here fits
into There, a matrouska
of defunct eyes and ears.

The move Thither to Yon
implies a stretch of homelessness.
Against the horizon, words
spread out like a migration of wings
on rivers reflecting mountains.

We’d never have gone if we’d known
we’d end up  exactly where we started.


In his absence, her thoughts
run to him, though she rises up
under another man. Her eyes
never leave the door that could
still open on her second chance.

She thinks of the faithful,
how they paced widows- walks
for a glimpse of their wanderers
hoisted over the horizon,
and of Penelope
weaving and unweaving
so that time might stand still.

When the new man leaves her
as good as alone, she switches off
the lamp. Hours tail each other
like bad drivers chuffing past
her window. High-beams crisscross
shadows animating the dark
and light climbs the wall,
 lingers for a moment
before it turns to go.

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