The poem finds no place in the parlor, with all its neo tidiness and preciousness
spoken in whispers, all the smiles between the lines,
the stanzas of tea held with rhymes extended like genteel pinkies
and sipped quite correctly through the meter
of tightly pursed lips, all of it sounding so holy and proper.
Ah, yes: all those birds, tiny creatures that fly,
and sunsets and sunrises, rain and wind, cats and other comfy small creatures,
myriad gardens and tedious foliage,
flowers, hell yes, more flowers! Grandparents, loves,
cloying diseases, the forgiving god, or any god at all,
pretty leaves, the sun shining through them—let’s not forget
all those meadows, and Christ almighty those goddamned seasons!
No place there for a poem that had a life worth living
and the courage to take its rage on the road
and run it full bore until it began to bleed and scream for more.
This one packed big for a terminal journey and when it left the house
it knew there was no turning back. The poem is taking
Highway 395, an asphalt strip of magic laid down on this earth
before anyone in the parlor was born.
And it’s speeding north through Oregon and Washington to the Canadian border.
Should we mention the dead Iraqis here?
After all, the poem has just slammed its Hurst shifter into
second gear and it’s burning off some rubber
in Hesperia, California, the southern terminus of Highway 395.
It’s got the pedal down in a 1964 Pontiac GTO
because every enraged road poem deserves a vintage muscle machine, a machine
big enough and bad enough to run on the blood
it sucks from the ground.
Another reason being that most of the fops
in the parlor have never had their bladder squeezed or their neck snapped back
by good old American road muscle.
Did anyone in the parlor mention the dead Iraqis yet? Do they even
know what it’s like to violate the speed limit
with big iron under the hood and a pretty young thing riding shotgun,
window down, long hair snapping in the rush,
cutoff jeans and a halter top and a heart strong enough for any speed
and a mind fast enough to survive all the insanity
it sees out the window? Listen, forget this poem in its rage.
It’s only trying to outrun all the patriotic evil it sees.
And honestly, it’s a sad poem despite the rage screaming under its hood.
The poem just buried the needle in the speedometer
but it can’t stop crying.
When ghoul counters put up the latest tote of Iraqis slaughtered
on this country’s watch, the poem wanted to scream,
and cry out for insurrections.
But someone in the parlor had just put the needle down on a neo 78 rpm
platitude, and the heads were saying, quiet please,
and beginning to smile and the hands were gently raising
the tidy cups of tea to their lips, and then the whispers started circulating
about the poem that was escorted out in its rage,
how awful it was for everyone here to be subjected to that, how unfortunate
it was that all those dead Iraqis had to be brought up
now, just at this moment, when everything seemed to be going so nicely.