Superstition Freeway

—Miles Waggener




ON-RAMP

A tired voice we don’t remember fills us

With its story half buried and held many exits away

Where all must take a ramp to lift them onto a well-paved arc of dusk

And we think of our birth desert its city the epicenter

How it reads like an instruction manual for electronics no one owns anymore

Grackle feathers and dusk draining like two fingers left of the bottle

The left hand writes as the right hand erases many exits away

The story so far no less lost

 

Reads like the instruction manual for electronics no one owns anymore

Youth is a meal we didn’t eat or worse

We did and its stock its blood clots the dust

Fills the grid that reads like an instruction manual its city the epicenter

Of electronics no one owns anymore where all

Must have a ramp to lift them onto a well-paved arc of dusk

There are fires in rusted salvage pieces

If weather is wick if effigy is fire sundown etc. burns off like a spill

 

Down its well-paved arc a finger left of the bottle

The right hand writes as the left erases

The story we stop telling ourselves we burry many exits away

Hands closing the distance around the desert’s epicenter

How it reads electronics no one owns anymore

There are fires in rusted salvage pieces

Heat rattles the safety glass its smeared groan from no one

A tired voice we don’t remember fills us








EXPRESSWAY

In the if-then that we live in then leave

Smooth stones sunk into the silt you spend a lifetime retracing them

Is there ecology in the curio shop

Trackless stretches hills and storms breaking apart

Like Kleenex where an eye pulls open then struggles to keep itself shut?

Bulbs burn across the canal as apartments jar awake

From a dream we won’t repeat stones sunk into the silt

You spend a lifetime retracing

 

Where an eye pulls open and shards of clear sky

Are pitching above the playground equipment

The jesses and varvels as if the falcon-headed god struggled

To keep itself aloft the trackless stretches

Storms breaking apart before the eye

Is there ecology in the curio shop

And will animal memory labor long enough

For me to bring an ear to its chest and not hear it stop?

 

Is there ecology as apartments jar awake

From a dream we won’t retrace smooth stones sunk?

Headlights like milk through a semi-transparent

Brood we won’t wake from the trackless stretches

Storms where an eye pulls open then struggles to keep itself

Shut will animal memory labor long enough?

My hand is on your breast you’re breathing

In the if-then that we live in then leave








COLLECTOR ROADS

Touchdown Jesus burnt to the ground

Then cottonwood seed against a picture perfect sky was like something white the near-blind see

And call out to

Then onto the rustic surface the fiesta retinue of stoplight peppers tumbled

And water beaded on farm-fresh ingredients like weather on a Corvette

And if it was cottonwoods you wanted

Pray something else toward the something white the near-blind see

Strewn against a picture perfect sky

 

And water beaded on farm-fresh ingredients like weather on a Corvette

Is this the hundred year flood? wet your fingers snuff that votive

Mother Life’s got a riot gun behind the door

Then onto the rustic surface the fiesta retinue of stoplight peppers tumbled

And water beaded on  farm-fresh ingredients you were stranded

But loved by everyone

But the amplified message

Of hope bungee corded to the top of the van

 

Echoing if it was cottonwoods you wanted

Pray something else toward the something white the near-blind see

Plastic chassis jaundiced by the sun were strewn against a picture perfect sky

Something white and the fiesta of peppers tumbling

And water beaded on the farm-fresh ingredients like weather on a Corvette

But nature then

Was no sliver of light beneath a pantry door

Touchdown Jesus burnt to the ground








SIGNAL BUTTE

Televisions turning tarot in the dark house

Sparking chimes of phones the small commands their loops emit

My chemically imbalanced sister sits on the step

As in the book of miracles and its chapter of plagues

When the call comes the clouds are saying when the call comes

As if I were the speaking pit of a cured plumb it’s in your mouth

And may I be literal for a moment the loops emit

The chimes of phones the small commands

 

When the call comes the clouds are saying when the call

Skins stretch taught around misfiring synapses

Who cut the floodlights from the parking garage?

The clouds are saying its chapter of plagues

When the call comes the clouds are saying when

My chemically imbalanced sister sits on the step

Shelling peas into a commemorative cup

She dreams of a Pepsi machine at the bottom of a mine

 

My chemically imbalanced sister as if I were the speaking pit

And may I be literal for a moment when the call comes?

And lonely chatter relay after relay the loops emit

A moment of floodlights as in the book of miracles

When the call comes the clouds are saying when the call comes

Shelling peas into a commemorative cup

The mind a hand no higher power stays

Televisions turning tarot in the dark house








CHILD IN UNLANDSCAPED MEDIAN

You pumped gas as she chased blowing trash

Across a cracked and weedy space no transformation from carcass to sanctuary

The calendar oxidizes but shines like lead

Shut up dream weaver you season of snares and heavy-tongued euphoria

The child’s face is crumpled foil and Velazquez’s little person

Is a cluster of chromosomes season of brightest flower

Scurries with ants from carcass to sanctuary

A cracked and weedy space no transformation

 

The child’s face is crumpled foil and Velazquez’s little person

Can’t stop shaking for Pablo Picasso

Whose unstrung posts stretch a dark road homeward

Shut up dream weaver you season of snares and heavy-tongued euphoria

The child’s face is crumpled foil hinging the nozzle

Back into its holster the calendar oxidizes but shines like lead

A beetle smack against your face

To prop up the facade that you know what’s happening

 

The calendar oxidizes but shines like lead a cluster of chromosomes

Brightest flower scurries from carcass to sanctuary

Season of talk to hear yourself talk a cracked and weedy space

Scurries with ants shut up you weaver of snares and heavy-tongued euphoria

The child’s face is crumpled foil and Velazquez’s little person

A beetle smack against your face

I hear your wings but I can’t see you

You pumped gas as she chased blowing trash








EL CAMINO VIEJO EXIT

Ask and answer are the echoing hemispheres

Empty bowls for owl-call for a last forkful to come spiraling back to us

But we’ll find our way as we did to early retirement which lead us to

The mountains we told ourselves we’d always come back

Severance package in the pocket of our sweatpants

Our mustachios trimmed we have time to mill around

The great bird on the spit for owl-call for a last forkful to come spiraling back to us

Empty bowls cracking the words severance package

 

In the pocket of our sweatpants

I would welcome the opportunity to serve jury duty in the near future

Ask anyone and the story of our lives is that the story and the mountains changed on us

The mountains we told ourselves we’d always come back

Severance package in the pocket of our sweatpants the scattered trees

Each tree is the hanging tree so unlike our memory of the mountains but we’ll find our way

Now my buddy there see his mouth he can’t remember the hymn

Float–me–a–boat–oh my soul–take-it–from-me and I–will–search–take–it–from-me 

 

As we did to early retirement which led us to mill around

The great bird on the spit for owl-call for a last forkful to come spiraling back to us

Still in flight the bird fills the valley the empty bowls

The great bird on the spit come spiraling back we told ourselves we’d always come back

Severance package in the pocket of our sweatpants

Now my buddy there see his mouth

And-I-will-search-for-it-or-deny-it-which-is-the-soul’s-story-take-it

Ask and answer are the echoing hemispheres








CRIMSON ROAD

A swallow escapes the tree exploding into flame

A tawdry symbol for spirit I know but it’s here as you drive to work

And suddenly you’re encircled by a moral light exposing every blemish

The mutual sorry you feel when looking at carp swaying in too little water

There’s a lull in the pageantry and fear becomes a kind of felt-covered prerogative

A tympanic expanse beyond your cracked windshield

That has always been there it’s here as you drive to work

Which is another tawdry symbol for spirit

 

There’s a lull in the pageantry and fear becomes a kind of felt-covered prerogative

Nothing like instinct

But your hands stay under the faucet for a long time

The mutual sorry you feel when looking at carp swaying in too little water

There’s a lull in the pageantry trees burn birds flee

Are you worthy of wine and soft carpet when suddenly encircled

What makes the cone of light you occupy so heavy the desert so much shovel-work?

Is this mysticism now?

 

And you’re encircled by the tympanic expanse of your cracked windshield

That has always been there it’s here as you drive to work

They’re firing into the crowd there’s a ladybug on a girl’s arm a tawdry symbol

It’s here the mutual sorry you feel when looking at it

There’s a lull in the pageantry and in the cone of light

So heavy the desert so much shovel-work

The brink or swell cresting its end without end that sets us free

A swallow escapes the tree exploding into flame








INTERCHANGE

Swift-like torrent of rapacious birds between us

Sunlight spectral as if woken from a deep sleep to shine a flashlight

Onto the paths empty our path perfect the horizon a replicating fork with

Buildings are we agents of this profligate and prodigal event?

From pelvis to skull and in the arches of our feet

Heat slowly burns off between buildings

The dog’s blind face barking at my bedside shine a light into it

Sunlight spectral as if woken from a deep sleep

 

From pelvis to skull and in the arches of our feet close the lid

On the day the minutes’ moth-like proboscis sipping from a flower

Along the road heat slowly burns off between buildings

From pelvis to skull are we agents of this

Profligate and prodigal event and are we the bereft

On our perfect path the horizon forking us into the midst of it?

The rug beneath the spider web is peppered with planes without pilots

We’re staring into the ductwork who’s filming us?

 

The paths empty the horizon a replicating fork between buildings

A dog’s blind face shine a light close the lid

To tumble through rough bedding to the dog’s blind face

Spectral and woken from this profligate and prodigal event

From pelvis to skull and in the arches of our feet the rug

Beneath the spider web is peppered with planes without pilots

Spiraling don’t you feel it?

Swift-like torrent of rapacious birds between us








POWER ROAD

The Moog synthesizer on the island of secrets

Is leaking

As if right into the foamy ochre of our lives dreaming of taco salad and a friendly face

The synthesizer the size of a small house is safe from us but leaking

I shut the car door so I won’t hear you cry any more

And tell you (but you can’t hear me)

That the massive transmitter cabled to the parking lot is

Leaking

 

I shut the car door so I won’t hear you cry any more

Into the weather or signal that the transmitter was erected to warn us about

The power goes out in the Country Buffet

The synthesizer is safe but leaking

I shut the car door so I won’t hear you plan the rest of your life i.e. what you would do

On the other side of celebrity

Because how can you know I don’t

Take any of this lightly

 

As if right into the foamy ochre of our lives (but you can’t hear me)

That the massive transmitter cabled to the parking lot

Making me feel so I dunno intrinsic is leaking

That the massive transmitter cabled to the parking lot is safe but leaking

I shut the car door so I won’t hear you cry any more

Because how can you know so don’t

On this side of celebrity the siren dopplers and diet colas spill

The Moog synthesizer on the island of secrets








ADVANCE SIGNAGE

Felt marker frown drawn in the unventilated hour

Dust motes hanging inside the car I remember

The Western Black Rhino is extinct

And there’s the naked welter of the town the arrows’ neon silenced

Something old and eaten reappears on the firmament

As paragliders spiral toward a distant grand opening

Their purple flares smoking over traffic I remember

Dust motes hanging inside the car

 

Something old and eaten reappears on the firmament

Hot wind twitching the door’s torn seal

Stokes the ashes with more coals as grease drips through floors

Through the welter of the town the arrows’ neon silenced

And something old reappears on the firmament a welder’s arc

On the naked eye the Western Black Rhino is extinct

Piggybacking and aloft the heat-smeared morning

Damsel- and dragonflies’ pleasuring brains two grains but are they brains?

 

The Western Black Rhino is extinct paragliders spiral

Their purple flares over traffic like feather boas

Tossed onto the astronauts’ tickertape parade

The flares smoking over the cars their arrows’ neon silenced

Something old and eaten reappears on the firmament

Piggybacking and aquiver the heat-smeared morning

A newfound presence pauses for the fanfare their numbers our

Felt marker frown drawn in the unventilated hour








ALMA SCHOOL ROAD

The withers the bridle the bit each horse was different and one was yours

An animal cut from the boreal hardwood of memory the carousel

The white star on her chest burns as your bedroom goes black

It’s here you tap your chest that wants to be whole

And see what the animal keeps

But not all the bulbs are broken bad company until the day I die plays

And you hear the recursive music and feel okay an animal cut

From the boreal hardwood of memory

 

And see what the animal keeps

Tomorrow try answering the question the half hours amass

Superfast is coming so fold it up in your pocket

It’s here you tap your chest and ask who wants to be whole

And see what you keep of the lights at Legend City

The white star as your bedroom goes black

Your arms are around the animal’s neck

I don’t know how to be alone the wood is split

 

The white star on her chest as your room goes black but not all the bulbs

You hear the recursive music and feel okay

The wood pinches your leg the boreal hardwood of memory

You hear the recursive music and ask who wants to be whole

And see what the animal keeps

Your arms are around its neck

Your mother digs through her purse for a match

The withers the bridle the bit each horse was different and one was yours








ARTERIAL ROADS

The preacher rose from the canal with a girl in his arms

And in the sky a helicopter winked as we stood in dirty water

Welcome to answer city

The hum and lure of check-cashed halogen and fans were the throne-chariot

And shopping carts rattled in spillways as it rolled

He said there was a table and a sink inside the motor home

She was ex-Jehovah’s Witness their pit bull’s name was Caiman and a helicopter

Winked as we stood in dirty water

 

The chariot was the shopping carts rattling in spillways as it rolled

The best year of my life we never locked our doors

But if you jimmied that lock Caiman would know

The hum and lure of check-cashed halogen and fans were the throne-chariot

And shopping carts rattled as it rolled

Caiman was a boy pit bull welcome to answer city

If you looked Caiman in the eye Caiman would know

The danger of roads is global the thirst to keep driving un-slaked

 

Welcome to answer city there was a table and a sink inside

She was ex-Jehovah’s Witness their pit bull’s name was Caiman

A plastic loaf of bread was broken beside the railing

She was ex-Jehovah’s Witness and in the sky the lure of halogen

The throne-chariot rattled in the spillways as it rolled

If you looked inside Caiman Caiman would know

Where is Caiman now he said Caiman would know

The preacher rose from the canal with a girl in his arms








PEREGRINE TERMINUS

To unfurl a wing before whatever world you want

And to look freely into the sun’s conspicuous absence of destiny

Scaffolding around structures you have come so far to see

Puling discord of tires as airplanes land world enough

For the vows of separation or a bridge out in between

On either side of it you want through

Before you their haze their towers’ conspicuous absence of destiny

You want to look freely

 

Into the vows of separation or a bridge out in between

Travel diaries open and read to you the words massacre  rock hen  vertigo   weather

Droplets like hunting spiders on the wire

Puling discord of tires as airplanes land world enough

The vows of separation or a bridge out in between

Structures you have come so far

To see the counterweight sinking as you rise

Stained glass esophagus the elevator rattles through

 

Scaffolding around structures on either side of it you want through

Before you their haze their domes the towers

And there is the neck of the blood bird pulling and the crow’s conspicuous absence of destiny

Before you their haze their domes the towers’ puling discord of tires

The vows of separation or a bridge out in between

The counterweight sinking as you rise

Your hands against the glass as if

To unfurl a wing before whatever world you want













Miles Waggener is the author of two poetry collections: Phoenix Suites (The Word Works, 2003), winner of the Washington Prize; and Sky Harbor (Pinyon Publishing, 2011); as well as a chapbook Portents Aside (Two Dogs Press, 2008). Since 2006, he has been a faculty member of the University of Nebraska at Omaha Writer’s Workshop. He lives in Omaha with fellow writer Megan Gannon and their son Manny.