Interstate Highway System

Adam O. Davis
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In the beginning, I was 
incorporate, plain as skull, 

in cahoots though inchoate: 
a suit suited to combust—

my body a blunderbuss 
brandished in traffic bright 

as dogbite. I drifted like sand 
under the wind’s hand, saw 

supercells & speed traps, 
saw God in the face of a forest 

fire. The sky was froth, 
the land foment: ichor & ozone, 

bee swarm & wildflower—
every living thing shivering 

under the long-range bellow 
of the transnational semitruck. 

Thrush melodies tumbled forth 
from trees still full of the didactic 

temper of birds, but I could only 
froth & foment—my tongue 

diabetic with word, deeded 
as property in the gun safe 

of my mouth. Thereafter, 
I heeded hints & omens, held 

hearsay dear as a family Bible 
so listened smartly when gossip 

hopscotched households 
like housefire. In later years 

I leaned prophetic, suffered 
visions—saw myself sullen 

on a windswept prairie, saw 
myself salved in a station flush 

with tropical disease, snakes 
shaking in my fists like bad mail. 

Still, when I slept I slept sound 
under the promise of diesel.

When I dreamt I dreamt darkly 
under the auspices of convenience. 

When I woke I ate in the assurance 
of eating all I could. And when

finally I corrected my iconography
I wept to find my eyes ever-blue, 

the sun fled—clouds militant, 
the moon an ambulance of rock. 

Under its urgency I succumbed 
to the hobby of my body, held 

my health like a cigarette from 
the world I watched through 

drawn curtains, listening all night 
to the opera of wolves behind 

the motels of America. Wolves 
I ran with, wolves I ran from. 

I lived on stick. I lived on stone. 
I hunted myself any way I could.

This poem is supported in part by the National Endowment for the Arts.

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