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More than we can bear

She puts on her new shoes. She checks her lipstick in the mirror. She meets a friend at the corner for a drink.

And then

Gunned down in the street. And covered with a flower patterned sheet.

Her new pink shoes bright against the grey Paris cobblestone.

There is only retrograde

0400 on the Georgia line he hammers south on 75 hoping to get through Atlanta before the locals wake and turn it into the usual shit show. The morning heavy with smoke and suffering.

On the other side she sits on the edge with the lights shut off drinking whiskey and wine and hoping sleep finds her before the monsters do. The night heavy with fog and longing.

Staring into their darkness they wonder how different life could be if they weren’t always afraid. If only once they could be brave.

Remind me to tell you a story

On the west edge of four in the morning and Nebraska.

The Air Force is running one of their secret trucks along 80 again. Their tactical convoy stretching from the desert of Kimball to the foggy thunderstorms of Cheyenne.

Every cloud raging.

Every mountain silent. Upset at the rain for slowly washing it away.

So, how goes the war?

Tiny rabbits crouching in the wide shadow of a redwood. Hearts pounding, ears twitching. Knowing the shadows aren’t dark enough to hide them from the owl’s eyes.

The full moon wanders close.

I hate that I have to die and spend so much time trying to find you again.

The full moon wandering away.

Always.

The highway glittering with prison buses.

And Taylor Swift tour trucks.

Memory Road, Boise

The highway is closed, on fire, and the wind is blowing like the world is coming to an end. I guess I could go to sleep. It’s been a while since I’ve slept. Maybe even dream. Of calm oceans and extinct volcanoes and quiet helicopters. Of a white house on a green cliff in Ireland. Of a black cat called Marley purring on my lap. But I won’t dream. I won’t sleep. The world is on fire. The wind is blowing. And I want to watch the end.

You think every story should end

Up here in the high desert of Wyoming
dead rabbits splatter the road.

Perched atop telephone poles
crows eye them hungrily.

They, the crows that is, would
be fat and happy.

If this California traffic
would ever cease.

I-70 Westbound, East of Oak Grove

Back at their apartment, he wonders why she doesn’t answer his text.

Out here in a ditch at the 36 yardstick, twisted metal and shattered glass, broken body and bleeding skin. A stranger holding her head in his lap, brushing her hair away from her sweaty face, praying to a busy god.

The Highway Patrol is coming from Grain Valley. Flashing lights and screaming sirens, stuck in four-miles of construction. But they needn’t be in a hurry. There’s nothing to be done here but take the report, carry away the remains.

Back at his apartment, he wonders why she won’t answer her phone.

All the chocolate milk in this place is expired

This is an evil place. Built on the graves of the innocent, and the not so innocent. In the men’s room, a woman is crying in the handicap stall. I wash my hands, pretend I don’t hear her. I stumble back to the bar, pretend I remember where it is. Weaving through the noisy slot machines taking money from the chain-smoking machines, through the empty tables with smiling dealers. Earlier, I was something like happy. Earlier, I was something like human. Now I’m sitting in a dark corner hoping the cameras can’t find me, hoping all this fades into a forgotten memory. But there is always evidence. There are always consequences.

Purgatory, Washington

Nothing here but heavy sun and dusty lots.
Burning air and falling hills.
Rail yards and cargo ports.
Containers and ships.
Vagrants and lot lizards.
And greasy meals.

Silence makes them lonely

I wake at dusk, climb down into the hot and windy twilight. I’m hoping to see something I’ve never seen before. Two planets dancing like tripping hippies. The fabled Star of Bethlehem, which wise men once followed to a myth. From a quiet corner I watch the sky. Behind me trucks belch and hiss. The sun sets, the night is covered with cloud. The wind dies, the birds quiet. And millions of dead soldiers rise from the ground. Monsters and men, women and children. Uniforms torn and rot. Wounds blood and gangrene. Standing at attention. Standing in formation. Silently watching the dark. Silently waiting for the peace they were promised.