Saturday

View From A Flying Jimmy

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 gray, somewhere in the black.
So I oversleep and wonder when I wake why my feet are ice.

I fly to work down back roads 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 base-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 slide show 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.

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