Oct/Nov 2005 Poetry

Beating down the Road

by Ray Sikes

Beating down the Road

I drove into Warrenton, looking for you,
When I saw Johnny coming out of a package store
With a bottle of Mad Dog and a pack of Camels.
“I seen her yesterday, but I hear she’s gone”
Was all he could tell me about you.
I left town with the sun sinking
Behind a hill arched against the sky
Like a threatened alley cat.
Then the sun splintered out
And died in my rearview mirror.

The world was black on 66 heading east
Until the Beltway looped and snarled,
Choked with trucks and cars and even busses
Passing me as if the speed limit
Were only a mere suggestion.
Past a temple gleaming like Oz
And then south on 5, I kept driving until
I stopped at a 7-11 that could have been anywhere:
Charlotte, Jacksonville, Buffalo or Boston,
Or maybe Waldorf, Maryland--
The sign was the only way to tell.

Hot coffee kept me right and I drove on
With my eyes burning and the lights thinning out
And nothing was on the road but me looking for you.
I turned, got lost, made my way back and saw Tony
In that crazy little store where he sold whiskey and
Fishing tackle and secondhand clothes all in the
Same room—you always thought that was funny.
“Last I saw of her, she was with you.”
That’s all Tony said, and I was out the door before that
Crazy wife of his could open her mouth and rant on
Once again about how we’re all being watched
By the FBI and the CIA and alien creatures
All with curious and wicked intentions.

In my car, beating down the road with the headlights,
I remembered how we spent that one night on the beach
At Point Lookout and you said the moon looked so lonesome
Shining on the water and hanging low in the sky.
But when I got there I only saw the slow-moving tide
Lapping up footprints in the sand.


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