Freeway 280

Lorna Dee Cervantes

Las casitas near the gray cannery,
nestled amid wild abrazos of climbing roses
and man-high red geraniums
are gone now.The freeway conceals it
all beneath a raised scar.

But under the fake windsounds of the open lanes,
in the abandoned lots below, new grasses sprout,
wild mustard remembers, old gardens
come back stronger than they were,
trees have been left standing in their yards.
Albaricoqueros, cerezos, nogales . . .
Viejitas come here with paper bags to gather greens.
Espinaca, verdolagas, yerbabuena . . .

I scramble over the wire fence
that would have kept me out.
Once, I wanted out, wanted the rigid lanes
to take me to a place without sun,
without the smell of tomatoes burning
on swing shift in the greasy summer air.

Maybe it's here
en los campos extraños de esta ciudad
where I'll find it, that part of me
mown under
like a corpse
or a loose seed.
     by Lynne Thompson
You've been dead for several years now:
               you've been several, mother--
                             you've been years.
                             for now--
                             several nows.
Years, deadly mother.
Several have been
your years--(several have been
                                  left for dead)--
Dead years--
                  & I am as several
                  as you
                               have been,
                               mother.      Even
Night Flight

     by Marjorie Saiser
From 18F I see only the wing,
see only metal and rivets and painted black arrows
and partially worn-off letters saying things like NO STEP.
From 18F, or anywhere on this plane,
I could see, if I want to, the video.
I could, evidently, watch ads for Buzz Lightyear, the series.
But I am watching us, the community
of 1090 to Denver. We are facing forward
as though in a tunnel or tube,
dots of light in a row above our heads.
We are ranks of readers, sleepers,

or we are the cast of Our Town;
we are cast as the dear departed,
sitting onstage on our chairs—supposed to be graves—
looking straight ahead, talking among ourselves,
never looking at Emily, the living,
when she comes to visit the cemetery.
We are not turning toward Emily;

we are numbers and letters facing forward.
From 18F I see we are regular in our posture,
regular in our habits.

In my row we are raising similar cups from similar trays,
oddly comforting:
now this head, now that one, lowers to drink.
One by one we sip our mutual nectar;
one by one we set it down.
Just Before
by Jim Knowles, published in Inkwell, 2010
There is a certain silence when
a layoff is imminent in the office,
like that thick empty moment
when a hammer swings down.
People disappear into big rooms,
unannounced. Meetings are canceled,
mail replies dangle on and on.
There is nothing normalizing in the air.
No sweet ozone from the printers.
No chatter. No ticking, milling snack machines.
No wrenching regurgitation
from the coffee flasks.
Just the low rumble and whoosh
of the cooling system, and a distant hum
of cars out on the highway, like muffled bees.
Then something happens.
A clearing throat, an opening door,
fast-walking slacks, rustling papers.
Then the rasp of cardboard boxes
being put together all around,
as the newly-severed struggle
with the shock,
the years, the roads washed out,
while jamming tabs in slots,
voiceless but noisy, as though
the dying were told
to build their own coffins.

Syndicate content