Another poem

TO COMMEMORATE National Poetry Month, I am posting the second of four of my poems published in the Fall 2018 issue of “Fifth Wednesday Journal.”


We rode north each May, straight 

through Texas and the prairies of Oklahoma, 

Kansas, Nebraska and the Dakotas, 

stopping only for gas, pit stops 

and bags full of burgers from roadside 

diners. Dusk was the hardest, loneliest. 

The looming darkness forced us 

into the world where silence

retreats to review its secrets,

making us strangers together 

in a rolling time capsule.

The sun’s departure brought an end 

to the banter and ushered in meditation. 

I became obsessed with the families 

in houses along the road, notroaming 

gypsies in rolling metal cocoons; 

blessed with the privilege of permanence.

As blackness covered the land, I would close 

my eyes until the drone of the V-8 

and the taca-ta-taca of tires ticking off 

concrete squares coaxed me to sleep. 

Throughout the night I awakened 

to the sweet smell of black coffee poured 

from the thermos into the plastic cup 

cradled by the sure hand of the driver – 

my father or Norberto, my brother. 

Or the whiff of the seductive scent 

of a matchstick’s orgasmic burst 

and it’s predictable glowing kiss 

on hopeful cigarette lips. 

Or the intoxicating fumes of fuel 

flowing into the battered and muddy side

of the green Plymouth as the pump’s pings 

counted out the gallons of gasoline.

Each time I asked, “Donde estamos?” 

But it didn’t really matter where we were. 

What I really sought/yearned for was 

the reassurance of a familiar voice. 

“Wichita,” would come the whispered reply. 

Or, “Watertown,” or “Ada,” or “Fargo.” 

Comforted anew, I’d go back to sleep, 

until the next time we stopped. 

Occasionally I’d awaken 

to a darkened stillness as the car 

set motionless on the side of the road: 

my father and Beto had driven 

as far as they could and it was time to pay 

nature the due it had been denied. 

Only the chirping of crickets 

in the grass by the road and the yelping 

of dogs from an unseen farm 

competed with the sounds of slumber. 

Then, from a distance came first the hum, 

then the rumble, then the violent roar 

of a tractor-trailer. When it passed, the car 

nodded and rocked in acknowledgement, 

causing somebody up front to shift positions, 

causing someone next to me – Carmen? 

Dora? Mariana? – to do the same. All 

would be quiet again until the next hum, 

rumble and roar produced the same effect: 

another shift, another elbow or knee digging 

into my side: reminders, even as we slept, 

of our impermanence. When the sun rose at last, 

we were rolling again and my bewildered eyes 

could see a new, flatter terrain. The fresh day 

found us closer to our familiar summer home 

with its black land and silvery grain elevators. 

I was once more in our reality, cradled

in the stale nurturing warmth of our hulking 

sedan. “Ya mero?” one of us asked. 

, almost there,“ one of us replied.

About juanzqui7

Former Texas reporter, columnist and editorial writer.
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