Listen: hounds loose their run trill reveille behind the lines
of white pine and cedar and elm that guard my seclusion.
I pretend I’m dreaming—then I am—waltzing with Jane
barefoot and ballgowned through a wood: music howls
somewhere beyond the grey, somewhere in the black.
So I oversleep and wonder when I wake why my feet are ice.
I fly to work down backroads that turn suddenly
into streets miles from my driveway graveled and
tucked between menacing rows of black-hulled pecans:
they bear on the third year and I keep their fallen ancestors
packed naked in blue tupperware tubs stacked in my freezer.
The cockpit of my jimmy is strewn with dead coffee cups.
Jack-in-the-boxes lay discarded and dying on the floorboards
-similar slaughters of necessity- ketchup clotted to their sides.
Last month’s cable bill flaps under the visor like a battleflag.
Tobacco whips by on the left and on the right so fast
each leaf on every stalk stands out in surreal bas-relief.
I taste the sharp and bitter tang of suckering plants:
it reminds me of my father’s pall malls and politics and
the smell of money seeded from blood.
Barn swallows rise -in lazy tourbillions- from the fields
their beaks and bellies full of yellow and green hornworms.
I wing past Buck’s BBQ Pit (You Can’t Beat Our Meat)-past
Lucy’s Do-Lounge where the girls serve more than shots-
past Big Jim’s Quick Mart: the stoner kid who pumps gas raises
a hand in reflex. I don’t wave back in sympathetic apathy.
Most mornings I stop to kill coffee cups but today I’m late.
Tenant houses rush by on either side, their concrete blocks
painted with Kudzu and mildew: I think of abattoirs and
oubliettes and other inevitable exits. Children and dogs and
cheap molded toys from the plastic plant over in Elroy dot
the tiny dirt yards -little boys and little girls stand in stagnant
ditches chunking rocks at death while their mamas are inside
fucking the mailman or watching General Hospital on TV.
I see slideshow flashes of their faces and I hope I don’t
have to come back out this way: scrape them up, heads
cracked open, futures frying on asphalt like so many eggs.
I pass the city limit sign -some of the holes are mine- ringed
in rust and canted to one side. Courthouse looms right,
county buildings lurch left and blocks ahead day meets night
where tracks split the city: segregation in iron ties old as time.
I pull into my lot -number six, section twelve-filled with cars
and trucks and bikes but I am the only flying jimmy.
Everything ticks: engine, watch, pulse, -alpha papa charlie-
the people that mill outside my windshield tick with tension.
I want to turn the key, turn around, turn into my driveway
where squirrels sit stuffing my sweet meats in their jaws:
instead I clinch mine -name rank serial number-open the door
and step out.
Listen: animals sprung their cages snarl in angry unavoce
behind walls of brick and steel and glass that guard nothing.