Monday, May 30, 2005

hunger road

is the longest distance between two points
beginning and destination
the characters time and experience live in the middle
at intersections or in themselves
the sun and darkness around them

a hazy morning ribbon of asphalt
cuts through the maryland hills
footsteps & meditation down to
the wall in washington
last night's dinner at
hagerstown mcdonald's dumpster
nestled under tartar-sauce-covered
half-full coke cups
and then a whole big mac --- a kid's secret from his dad
or maybe a message to us

a greasy road through dusty fields of corn
once forests
corn stripped and milled and stuffed in warehouses
for what? for hungrier times?

torn backpack and sneakers sluggishly moving
down the highway
a big red rig stops and asks if i want a ride to bethesda
as long as i don't smoke
or complain about david allan coe's
underground tape of raw sex songs
i told him i don't smoke

the diesel roars and whines through the hill country
blurting out a tale
of marriage and trucks and betrayal and trucks
windows wide open guitars reverberate
the stench of a backpack breaking free
a hot humid breeze masks the odor
sunny lazy droplets linger
up over the green furry ridge
near the west virginia border

i doze off for moments at a time
instantly forgetting the road
beneath me
instantly dreaming of mango
and rambutan
the bungalows of koh samui thailand
their gold-brown touch
the gentleness of the horizon

on the curb in bethesda
looking for a wendy's
walking all the way to georgetown
people and shops stuffed and upscale
concerned but at a distance
i walk on through and cease to exist

limos buzzing pennsylvania avenue
chrome-covered headlamps with blinders on
a family with shopping bags squatting in the park
an old black man with a basset hound
curled up on a bench
afraid to move in the heat
the next bench over a chess game ducks
as a stream of rollerblades fly by on their lunch break

seagulls cruise the reflecting pool
bare feet dig deep into the grass
clawing scratching earth
black and moist under toenails
earth of life
in the shadows a black wall forever sings
a dirge upon the water
three million dirges
a swan wing flutters & weeps
i taste the earth
my hunger lives

--- e b bortz

(published in The Exchange #3, 1995)

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