The lake crawled into my driveshaft and locked the axles.
Composure as mechanical frequency of I-beams, steel
railroad bridge. Its crescendo met with a rubber mallet
lover. Could I be drug across town tied to the rear axle
of a Bronco? Eyes strung from the rearview mirror like dice.
Goodbye traction control, goodbye loose gravel.
The nation’s forests or their ransom: payable to the fire giant
at the dead-drop spring. Mom flips dawn silhouettes in a glowing frypan
made of I-40 blacktop and hot grease jumped as the green
yellow hummingbirds of your granddaughter’s first spring. If it was me
cooking I’d beat the dawns to charm the dowager empress
of the galaxy out of her concertina wire ballgown. If it was me
I’d offload my dreams at your feet as a dozen 2017 Tacomas,
forest green, stick-shift, running boards lifted axles. White tendons
of dehydrated meat stuck between teeth as irreverence. Some people
pretend it’s ravaged beauty or loss and I call it a game,
a competition. Drift the rear axle and throw road dust higher
than early sun, the creekfog it woke. Pasture dust camouflages
livestock and this smell could be the end of your brake pads or oil
leaking onto the drive shaft or that semi in front of you hurtling
down the mountain pass, the end of its brake pads. I once crossed the country
without a lover in the passenger seat, swore at the rearview
never again. I need someone to pretend to believe me when I lie
the nuclear plant is a cloud factory and all this bambi-eyed roadkill
is somehow tumbleweed, a log, refrigerator box, illusion.
Nate Duke was born in Arkansas and is currently a PhD student at Florida State University. His poems and nonfiction are forthcoming in the Southern Humanities Review, the Arkansas International, and have appeared elsewhere.