Why gawk autotuned coverboys hawking neon for the promise of followers coughing noble gas from stuffed freeways?
Following America’s footpaths
from their fluorescent throat, crawl
out of their tangled steel stomach to
un-spindle interstates and undocumented
sunsets over industry-whipped fridge
fleets wheeling Monday lifeblood to metropoli,
thickets sleepless with the delivery of pills,
meat, milk, lumber, wrecked
cars and mail, machinery.
Step from salt licking glassoil
gas station coffee greased carousel
of walmarts, taco bells, am/pms.
Phone-in fog horns and freight ships,
gun shows and chemistry tents,
oil rigs and cargo. Bypass stuccoed
shopping plazas where for-never waltzes
and come out of sleeping in
cinderblock rooms sheets bleach-twisted.
Look past billboards, the pre-war gleam
value set of fabricated modular foodstuffs,
convenience the space king and grand
fathers gust-toppled drinking dream tonics,
see veterans smolder in cafes with discreet
loss, play violins for money, live in cars.
See runaways co-author myth by gut, rail
and chance, camp and whisper in families
backstage re-drafting the national script
with mental patience, mystic surgeons
in the pines self-reversing
big dollar data lobotomies.
Why gawk autotuned coverboys
hawking neon for the promise of
followers coughing noble gas
from stuffed freeways? Beneath,
in wheat pasted underpasses the gem-
lettered museums run by teenagers
with rocketships for hands say
I am here, I love you, and this
is who we are: so many strangers.
Under nomadic clouds with numberless
zip codes, vanquished owners can taste
the local rain. If left alone and
unbranded, sand flosses the teeth
and fertilizer leases out the nails
and mountains give the hips
lesson in first dance and children,
who tuck futures with hair behind
their ears, listen to livestream
the joining of oceans.
Brittanie Sterner composed this poem while choosing to live in a van with her dog, Pontchartrain, during which time they hiked many places across the United States together. Brittanie lives and writes in Philadelphia, where she works for the Free Library.