[from Martha Serpas's The Dirty Side of the Storm, Norton, 2007]
Bully Camp Road
Every mangled, rusty hood reads "CLOSE!"
In white grease print, as if something might
Escape, like a mad dog through a screen door
Or Freon-charged air from a struggling
Window unit in Cocodrie mid-
July, from this junkyard of car shells
Turtle-stacked along a sagging chain-link fence.
A curl-tip of blackberry springs up
From a chrome gear shift, commanding
What's left of this pickup's interior:
Seat rails, speaker wires, steering column,
A Fritos bag and a few flakes of glass
From the mosaic bubble of punched-
Out windshield. Its bottle-green leaves against
The hollowed dash make it look a little
Lost, a little upstream. Don't think hope, for
God's sake. Think vulnerable. Think of that day
In kindergarten, telling the teacher --
She so pleased with fifteen etched Christmas cards --
Mama got them from the back of some drawer.
Think how complicated truth became.
Most of these jalopies are picked clean
To their Detroit bones: not a rearview
To be had, not a taillight to follow
Down a swamp road. And this road is a long
One, all caked dust and oyster shells, past
The house of a boy who set off a shot-
Gun under his head, so that his tongue,
I'm sure, was the first to go, a collage
Of rote recitals, blunders, and dreams.
Echoes endure, chalky dust quiets,
Almost settles, like this passenger cage,
Razed to a mound of glinting red powder.
The Dirty Side of the Storm: Poems