by Aaron Poochigian
One Wednesday in America at night
someone was in a pickup running, running
from wrong back there where nothing worked out right:
the hopes that bombed, the love that turned to shunning,
jail, juvie and a neonatal ward.
Sucked up into injustice, he ignored
all that his wide-eyed high beams brought to light.
Quail flickered, and abrupt mile markers grew
greener, then swooped into the past abaft.
A plastic bag lurched like a twisted kite.
A farm with barn and slaughterhouse, a raft
of lit efficiency, came passing through.
But these phantasmagoric waifs and ghostly
surprises surfaced harum-scarum. Mostly
the edgeline, white and wanting to be true,
drunkenly went about the brink it drew,
and center strips stitched contours as they dashed.
Such wonders failed to fetch our absentee.
Soon, though, a far-off nodding body flashed
a telltale yellow, a portentous code
that yanked him outward from his beef with life.
The omen spoke:
there was another road
approaching, an oblique trajectory
athwart the one that drove him. It would run,
with time, as main street through some center rife
with bars and diners, with the interplay
of known dead-ends and new things to be done.
Sure, there’d be more flush bosses grudging pay,
more bible-thumpers damning real fun,
more girls who won’t give you the time of day,
but it might be a change.
There was no one
to yield to, but he stopped there anyway.
AARON POOCHIGIAN earned a PhD in Classics from the University of Minnesota and an MFA in Poetry from Columbia University. His latest poetry collection, American Divine, the winner of the Richard Wilbur Award, came out in 2021. He has published numerous translations with Penguin Classics and W.W. Norton. His work has appeared in such publications as Best American Poetry, The Paris Review and POETRY.