Everyone who passes me holds my life in their hands. I can’t stand to look at them but I do. Faces behind dirty windshields, eighteen wheelers and Volkswagens, minivans. They carry the lottery card that wins my violent death, each and every one of them. In their wallets, their purses, their consoles. Only one will be lucky enough to punch it. But which one? Was it him? Her?
Wrinkled faces, hackneyed brows and unshaven jowls, they mock me with moonslatted eyes. Drivers rocketing by in a blur. I only catch glimpses of them but they seem to know everything about me. They can smell my watery fear. I can tell by the way they catch my gaze, some lightly grinning, others drooling with murderlust. Stay in your lane. Please.
A twolane highway, a nighttime deathrow chamber, paved just for me. Guttural machines roaring. Mountain roads and overpasses, headlights, gaslamps, the sides of my vision iridescent with flashes. Sweet rotting stench of bloated roadkill gone on before me. Seeping through the cracked window, through the vents. I will stink soon, I whisper. I feel sorry for the wildlife. But not as sorry as for myself.
There goes another one. Whizzing by. Close enough to taste its fuel. Was it a German sportscar or Austrian I’m not sure I even know the difference just another mobile slaughterhouse powered by genuine Bavarian steel and pistons and cylinders sucking in the besmirched air and gurgling highoctane and belching out clouds of noxious exhaust screaming blattering cutting through the motorway on four wheels of whitehot polyurethane glowing from the friction the fiction my diction is lost all my fingers are shaking what a cost I have paid the asphalt is laid in wide streams of solid black rivers I shiver in my sweaty boots and hold on to the wheel I feel surely everything is lost
Every roadway is a screaming tomb. I trust no one and nothing yet I hold out in trembling hands the fragility of my life to each passing motorist. Please don’t kill me, I whisper. But that one laughed. Is he the one? Is he? A pockmarked teen who has yet to feel anything more in his cheesestained hands than a videogame controller and a few slippery gropes at budding breasts? And now the steering wheel of my mechanized death? Is he? He might be. I’ve handed over my life to him and I don’t even know his name.
That trucker, high in his cockpit of doom. Did you see his smirk? Through yellowrotted teeth he screamed, through methfumes and snotdried mustache wind, I smelled the hiss of his breath. He is coming head on. I just know he is the one. The grill is stained with bugs and drugs and children who needed hugs and soon my sinewy brain it seems.
Get out of my rearview I don’t know you the speed limit is much slower you bastard I can’t go any faster please turn off your brights the night is fine without your lights without my spine ripped from its seat and scattered like a brokeback snake on the street my brakes are worn and the side of the bridge is torn and there is a perfect place to pull over and pass let off the gas let off my life stop this carnival ride of strife I didn’t sign up for this drive
I find words peaking out of restroom in the middle of the night, face pressed against the cold, glossy door.
A little longing goes a long way
I can still remember the feel
of the air you carry
when you are angry
It sometimes amuses me,
A little here, and a little there
the retributions feeling
inactive actions by
our joint decisions
Fear before I am forced
to ask for it
dance, sing, making merry
little people, so little
just a little
I need a little
to feel little
leaving may hurt?
do I bleed?
I will not miss you much, you know
just, maybe, perhaps, perchance
I lost myself and found a writer in the mirror.
I seek truth in words created out of blank pages with blinking cursors—sentences crafted from the rib of despair and self-doubt.
Photo: Sarah Blanch Sweet (1896-1986)
“I took a deep breath and listened to the old brag of my heart: I am, I am, I am.”
Sylvia Plath The Bell Jar