North by Gregory Lawless — Amarillo Bay™ Literary Magazine — Something Good To Read™

by Gregory Lawless
Gregory Lawless

Gregory Lawless is a graduate of the Iowa Writers' Workshop. His work has appeared in or is forthcoming from Ampersand, Apple Valley Review, "Best of the Net 2007," Blood Orange Review, Contrary, The Cortland Review, Drunken Boat, Front Porch Journal, Gander Press Review, H_NGM_N, La Petite Zine, Memorious, My Name Is Mud, nth position, Sonora Review, Stride, and 2River. BlazeVOX will publish his collection of poems, I Thought I Was New Here, in 2009. He lives in Waltham, Massachusetts.

(After C.K. Williams)

One yellow helmeted tree-trimmer, his chainsaw idling now,
    twists down to the ground in his swiveling boom, the sound

of the tree shredder rasping still through maple and beech branches, spitting
    chips and leaf dust into black bags on the grass. Two men drag

one stricken limb across the lawn
    and lift it up to the turning saws of the shredder when

I look away at the dumplands beyond the highway and the river, at the high
    coiled sweeps of barbed-wire and the vent pipes pouring

their cursed air into the air. The Albany trailers thunder over
    the rumble strips on the shoulder, as jackhammers

bite into asphalt between blasts
    of hosewater. The cops wave everyone around and away up 81

and so I grind my car now toward their hands
    and sputtering rollers. I have, so many times, driven north

to the state border just to remember
    how to flee, how the hot tires bubble over potholes, past blasted

rock and parched trees. This time, I think, I'll stay gone long
    enough to lose a job and break down in some factory town

on the upper Hudson; I break down of course
    but I keep driving. I drive off without leaving and later

I come home past patches of crosses
    and makeshift shrines for all our highway martyrs: St Brandon,

St Jocelyn, St Victor. And I look up now at the names
    of new lovers painted on bridges and water towers, these couplings

and wild letters that end with forever, that always
    end with forever.

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