coaldust grease pit    Fox News bigscreens    High Life
in a bottle    paper placemats pitching superproteins
breakfast for dinner    big ol ol glory on wall    bored
waitstaff    bored buffet    I shook
through 300 miles of hilly Pennsylvania
roadway to get this far from Philly    this far from
Ann Arbor    this far from everything
I love and loved yesterday and will love
tomorrow    I play my music
loud in the car and stay 15mph over
the limit except when cops perched in the median
douse me with acid    I drive with memories
that tingle in my mouth and creep up my sleeves
I drive with a hundred swings swaying
one for every body I’d wish my arms around
but they’re all empty jangling on their chains
as if their occupants just jumped or a big
wind blew    the playground is covered with
bottlecaps and butts    the playground is
full of bugs and worms if you dig    who digs
food’s up    that was fast    everything’s fast
I get hooked hard on you ten times a year
for twenty years    every time it happens fast
I get hooked hard on other people too
so fast I don’t know it    and neither do
they    no one’s the wiser or the dumber
these hash browns and bacon are just not very good
everything on my table is yellow or brown
or in little packets    like people
on different pages of the atlas
or in nonoverlapping memories    people
in swings with parallel trajectories to keep
them from chipped teeth and bruises    or giggles
and kisses    say you live in the city and majored in art history
and she lives in the city and majored in art history    both
like black glasses and the anarchist
bookstore on South Street and the boy who needs
a shave    and one sudden headache
keeps you from meeting    one frazzled driver
making a lane change    making a phone call
making a decision    everything we make takes time
but happens fast    eighty-seven years
takes time to live    to spread out over
an exponential net of other graces and loves
who have never swung on a planet without him
snap    now we all live on a planet without him    know it
or not    dear reader i love you probably    i’m saying
i’m suspicious    i’m suspect    though no
blip of static in my brain is potent enough
to disrupt the signal to the truckstop
screens or rouse the attention of the waitress
i don’t think she loves me    our swings are strung
on different sets    different unturned earths

~ ~ ~

Scott Beal‘s poems have recently appeared or are forthcoming in poemeleonThe CollagistIndiana Review, and Radius.  This fall he will be teaching first-year writing at the University of Michigan and will serve as Dzanc Writer-in-Residence at Ann Arbor Open School.