From The Immediate and No Sooner, published in 2021.
Sitting in this traffic jam. A tailback
of twenty miles? Can’t be right. What a quack
that road app is. A singalong soundtrack
of driver curses – now I’d buy that. Snack
on purse-linty mints. Next time I’ll kayak?
From Unpredictable Hue, 2019.
Exactly on schedule four cars emerge into view
speed up the on-ramp. I parallel them
here on the highway all of us racing toward
the point of the V that is the merge.
According to highway etiquette
I should get over into the left lane
but there is a solid line of traffic already occupying it
so let’s see who blinks first
in this very ordinary fight to the death
I speak in metaphor but certainly it could happen.
I decide. Magnanimity will be my word for today
a term more noble than self-preservation
but the latter is truly the more appropriate.
I fall back. I let the first car the leader of my rivals
merge in but I tailgate close and hard to show
I made the choice. I decide what I will permit.
It is enough and all that the situation requires by custom.
Traffic speeds on and others behind me
will decide the merge fates of the newcomers
and if it happens in my rearview mirror, well,
it’s not happening to me.
The maneuvers are over almost before they begin.
Joined in one flow we move
the next highway on-ramp entrance
two miles down the road
where we will test ourselves again.
I change the radio station and think of lunch.
From Rearrange, 2018.
It Was Always Going to Happen This Way
the destructive eye contact
you made with the guy in the white car
trying to poke his nose into traffic
coming out of the convenience store parking lot
you being in the lane already and in a big hurry
he said yes
you said no
he didn’t want to wait his turn
you could see it in his eyes
he didn’t want to wait his turn
you said no I won’t
let you slide into the lane
yes you will
let me slide into the lane
side panel (yours)
From the collection Look Winter in the Face, published 2015.
The cars rush past the front window I stare out
into the falling snow just beginning
into a headache
I consider silence a blessing but
silence on the roads means a snow-covered surface
and that means snow and accidents and
will you get home safely and
Oh my head. Pounding now.
Easton Road in the snow
Taken from the Easton Road overpass at the Glenside train station.
The flickering light
The cracked sidewalk revealing
its need of repair.
The quick shove endeavoring
to look like an accident.
Traffic, City Hall, Philadelphia, PA, looking west on Market Street, November, 2005. Digital photo with enhancement.
Summer is a quiet time in my neighborhood. Or so I think? The school across the street is out for a couple of months, and people go on vacation, so traffic is lighter. Unless I look down, that is?
Rush Hour in My Neighborhood
We’ve met again and again this summer
as I head up the street
You own the sidewalk
you crowd of commuters
out here every morning
an endless stream of look-alikes
veering off with no notice
All in a great big hurry
to get to some anthill
and do some ant things
you’ve got somewhere important
to go to
and I don’t
and glad of it
Still, I’m getting the feeling,
I need to pick up the pace
all that single-mindedness
is working on me that way
as I try to step into traffic
not on to it
Artist Trading Card, 2012
Black Tree and Sun
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