Oct/Nov 2005 Poetry

900 Miles

by Gary Charles Wilkens

900 Miles

i. 900 miles

In the red and yellow summers
when school is out and students
have scattered along the highways,
it is fashionable among college hippies
to dress themselves in pressed overalls
and pile themselves into smoky vans
and trip along the county roads
into Iowa and Ohio, where corn
reaches the cloudless skies and
ditchweed grows; there to shuck
ears and live in tents beside
the quiet people of the road.

ii. from my home,

In the olive-drab lean years when
dust choked the fields and tractors
shoved the old families off their land,
it was necessary for the Arkies
to sell their tools, teams, and hearts
and crowd themselves into overloaded trucks
and trek across the concrete paths
into the West, where oranges bunched limbs
but not for them, where there was no work
but to push on to the next county,
the next camp, their hunger a dirt-brown.

iii. ...from my home.

In the tan and trembling autumn when
clouds range off-white across the sky
and the sun burns orange into the leaves,
it is natural for black-tipped
gray birds to fold themselves into long
formations and fly south, where heat
lingers yet in the air and butterflies
hover in heavy masses over thick trees.


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