Sprinting up the Florida Turnpike at
85 miles an hour heading toward
Gainesville The landscape sweltering in heat and
humidity As I pass the town, I’m
thinking about all the children killed,
and how it must feel to be murdered Was it quick? Or did it last a long
I stare at fields speckled with
hardy pine trees Then after a couple of
miles more, a rush of green marshland More swamp water, and everywhere
mosquitoes and flying critters
bunched in angry fists.
The cement on the road’s very white Bright Not like L.A at all And at the side of the road,
petrified by sun and humidity,
dead critters curl up in this heat.
I wonder who comes along and scrapes
them all up Most died quick Splat on a bumper But you can’t count on it I once saw a cat hit In the middle of a
street All the cars stopped People
staring And the cat flopping
desperately He lived a long time Jerking like an epileptic Till a fat
man in a tank top undershirt walked over
and crushed his head with a shovel.
Everybody looked away Except me.
I drive on
thinking about different kinds of death I think about you.
How you said you would love me forever.
But you said you really had to have a
two story mortgage And a Visa Card without limit Wasn’t that another kind of
prostitution? I had asked, and you said,
“Yes, yes, it probably was ”
I stare at the road I begin counting
After awhile I get bored,
and quit I pull in at a rest stop,
myself from behind the wheel And I stand here
a long time,
at open spaces.
The cashier says have a nice day I whisper, “I have other plans.”
I head for my 1947 Cadillac In the parking lot an ancient pilgrim
in railroad coveralls stands
like a stone in a stream,
her shopping-cart wheels
jammed between cement lines She is streaming epithets.
I find the car Geno is sprawled in the front seat,
drinking wine & putting finishing touches
to a poem that tells how horrible it is
living in the suburbs with a female lawyer
& about the awful neighbor kids &
how he’d like to kill them I start the car & head toward the exit The ancient pilgrim is still leaning
into her cart as if into a high wind “I slash throats with a garden hoe,”
screams Geno I stop the car “I crush skulls with a fireplace brick.”
I get out & say hello to the wayfarer,
her teeth slip, I lift her cart over the
gouge in the earth “Asshole,” she cries & clenches
her fist to strike I jump back in the car Geno is still ranting his poem “I eviscerate the little bastards &
roast their guts for the dogs.”
“You have a gift,” I tell him, “Pass the wine.”
I’m thinking of Dante’s Inferno Canto XVII to be exact:
“Those who have done violence to art.”
As we round the Long Beach Traffic Circle,
I suggest Geno call all the
neighbor dogs Cerberus.
The night grows hotter.