You know how it is:
tires devouring the coiled road,
one hand on the wheel, bending left,
bending right, slick as a seal; one of those
dawns when grains of fog spatter your windshield
like handfuls of sand, when a monstrous owl drifts
from the invisible forest with a rat writhing in his claws;
when a half-grown buck, leaf-drunk, vaults across the sopping
tarmac like a prince under enchantment; and “Whoso list to hunt,
I know where is an hind!” you cry, but silently, of course, because . . .
because you’re ashamed to mouth a greater poet’s borrowed trappings;
you, with no rights in the matter, mere remote control in fog, ambivalent,
wishful, and cold as well; for all the heat’s in words you were afraid to sing
in earshot of these phantoms—Wyatt, Milton—floating in the vinyl shade,
ready to taunt your match-struck quavering flame. You, not man enough
to warble to an empty car; they, so long dead, still young: still flashing
their brash “So help me God, an immortality of fame.” They played
their necessary cards: not only intellect and drudgery and grief,
wordy sleight-of-hand and rage and loving, probing curiosity,
but plain obnoxious gall. A poem, a stiletto in the back.
And you, alone and lonely, in your blundering car,
afraid of some fool prince with the temerity
to leap into your high-beam’s timid dark.As if that murky light could be his star.
[forthcoming in Same Old Story (CavanKerry Press, 2014)]