Driving through Tunnels
the blab of the pave,
the maul of the dog (W.W)
I rock as I ride down turnpikes south towards Delaware,
flowering cattails edge the swamp where forsythia
blooms all day and the golden mirror reflects
on a city of light. We pass Woolly Mammoth trails,
herds of Guernseys, feeding flocks of cattle egret
monkey jungles, alligator farms, corn growers'
flat lands which are heirs to Paumanook, Newark Bay
grist mill, flint rock of the Passaic
where sour willows sing and lake stones blister,
crowned aqueducts crumble, fractured
but whole, into a mountain of whitewalls, desiccated earth.
My truck is the animal that I fear.
Sluggishly it lurches into empty lots
and lugs about its burdens
of flesh and fruit. Its eyes are those that blaze
in midnight fires. Look, beyond that hill
another half-track's body is burning.
Too much coffee too early,
the don't fuck with me of loading docks
and my limbs bend in to the wheel as this deus ex machina
grinds and spends itself on diesel, wears the gears
down into the dirt. The divine theory of the road:
that never looking back, forgetting Kerouac,
speeding out the fourth dimension
or the next best thing, some Best Western
motel pool, blowing dough on sex
with illegal aliens. Even in this dismal rain,
I sniff Hawaiian orchid. But all we can see
is the Maxwell House Coffee can, dripping its neon
to the river. I drift into the rhythm of the going
forward, more of the same, the moving on.
We skid past a hag in fox pelt:
she's chewing on the corner of a cardboard lid.
Silicon in vats on forklifts,
cross-bone Xs, say indelicato,
a convoy of sulfur rigs mounting up
around us, my blind spot grows
till I can't see for all the thunder snow.
The compass reels directionless
until we pass a load of Spanish moss,
stop for a Molson off the road.
On St. Marks, a Labrador wears T-shirts
and his wheel-chaired master blows trombone,
a magnificent wailing into a land of dogwoods
that define a precipice of sky.
Thirteen-hour nights on the highways of the North,
medians for destiny, where penny-eating curs
spit cum into the toxic pools of Teaneck.
We drive to the cool tunnels,
dream the bridge which topples to the sea.
Hard by Hart's Island,
we unload the dead from a lorry--
stillborn Baby Richardson asleep in her plywood cask,
here to rot with all the other nameless poor,
requisitioned to this potter's field
off Riker's Island, where men come from
to throw coffins like sticks of firewood,
into the icy shadows that stretch
into sinewy mulch. The Calvary yards
of Queens, endless bleached deer bones,
Mt. Zion, River of Night, Far Rockaway,
Gowanus, epitaphs from Poe in a grove
where I felt a pair of eyes on mine,
some unearthly owl amidst the fevered dahlias,
crepusculum, determined to live through
winter and utter a word.
In dreams the bridge is black and lies along the surface of the Bay,
I-beamed limbs flail in a rage of tides,
a line of Panzer tanks and Chevys
upright on the upper roadbed, smoking
the burn and fall. Shock waves tremble whatever
rivets or shakes foundation-stone until the beast
shivers and shits to the sands below,
where horseshoe crabs lurk and burp in the kelp.
A cart full of razor clams is parked on pot-holed Greene Street
while its owner takes a leak:
ice-packed fry are murmuring...
rice fields soaked down to the ferment.
Old Post Rd is strewn with armadillos.
Shorty sucks a lemon ice while Duchamp
tries to fix a flat. They talk of roads
which lead to accidental death, prescience
in a universe of trees, where Vega rises and Jupiter
descends-- lets blood-- parks the car away and sleeps.
Farmers-- mint-pickers-- on tractors stop to count the dandelion seed
which flutters up to Three Mile Island.
What I thought was snow one day was chicken down,
blanketing a pass off Lefferts Avenue.
Tarmac, buddies' lives, a sea of cable spools
uncoiling-- hot tarpaulin, holes in the street
down to the Scottish hornpipe lad
who dips his candles in our wax.
On to Pucillo's garbage barge, where damselflies
unbind themselves on tern-shat roofs of Quay Street,
Greenpoint, where on a ferry men watch other men eye beauty.
At night, I lie in gold lamé
and listen to the pregnant goddess as she works her belly
and glides her hands to my face.
She quiets my fear of tyrannical boyfriends,
chalk-white stairwells and red telephones.
Dreams of the Fat Man crushed
under a U-Haul in the Midtown Tunnel,
a rabid dog named Moon
of the Kearny oilfields,
wasted piers in Weehawken,
babies in back seats of taxicabs
as steel crunches onto steel.
At night-- in a plastic garbage bag
on East Fifth Street, a human heart
beats out its diastolic rhythms.
Shinbone Alley, a crack in a wall for seances--
sun's rising glimpsed by cats in Noho.
Stoppage or seepage of hours into tomorrow,
the rich stroll to work in rubber suits,
the skull of a rhinoceros lit from underneath the pavement.
A girl paints her toenails pink
she thinks, to match the dying light of Tuesday.
A fisherman in Vigo puts on socks
outside his shack and trawls across the sea.
Inside a Spanish Harlem public school,
twenty kids bow Schubert on borrowed violins
to the melancholy ruse of Trump's last city,
one lost island in a province of the dead,
dying, willing to try: they all dream tunnels
to the other side where forsythia blooms
in the rotaries. The procreant urge takes over.
Thunder cracks the sky,
blood bags drag along the Jersey shore,
where blanched bones dry.
The truck becomes an I itself
as we drive Mott Haven,
beached skiffs of the unreal river,
past the Creole green
of a casa dominicana, pig-laden
and oozing in cacao.
Through bogs of slime and ladybugs,
a man walks fourteen miles to turn his bottles into bread.
Mayflies choke down dinner: funerary rites
for a Trailways bus clog the BQE.
Driveshaft shifts, the body slips,
I wake up in the arms of a stranger.
Gristle trucks, black blood sausage,
asphaltum and oily waxen thread.
D. steps on a leg of lamb as we exit
Harlem River Drive, where the road winds
down to nothing but man-eating weeds,
skeletons of Oldsmobiles-- a cul-de-sac.
The life inside: a mirage of sound.
The sun is very far away today.
Cold franks and condoms in cool halls off Myrtle Avenue.
A forest of symbols in a maze of hurtling traffic--
it all speeds by. A Freuhauf semi-sixteen-wheeler
bunts its way between parked cars and smashes
a Subaru. Evel Knievel prepares a final jump,
over the sunken Verrazano. We shock into gear
by the giant clock face at Exchange Place,
grip our seats, go underground, reaching towards river,
the light at the end of the Holland Tunnel,
the roseate setting sun, as we head
by headlight out and away into the dark
of the night and the red tail lights up ahead.