Gravel and Cobalt

Duncan Ford Young

The road is constructed of the crushed ghosts
Of alcoholic sinners, elderly before their time.
Under the blanket ear-muffs of a too-loud muffler
Hear them groan and whine
Of the ceaseless rubber friction,
The daily grind-up of gravel
Ground back down in a rush hour penance dance.
"Even the inconsequential sting," they say,
"Of bikers waiting in vain for the change of tension in their legs
Feels like a combine shearing the molecules from our existence."
The road wishes it could turn its face away
On days that fall cobalt,
On clouds that lay low like slabs of iron slate,
Like lids on desire.
But the rain falls, finds cracks,
Breaks down a morsel at a time.

And then maybe later the road wakes from a feverish coma,
Like a beaten prisoner in an isolation box,
To squint into a watery sun, bright and obnoxious
As secret government experiments with laser and crystal.
"See through the scalpel glare,
Contrails scratched across the blue,
Our fortunate brothers
Who endure only minutes, not years,
Before sun and sky sift them out of existence."


The 2River View, 3_1 (Fall 1998)