Song of the Open Road

      Where are you, Walt?
      The Open Road goes to the used-car lot.

                                      —Louis Simpson

At the end of the open road is the junkyard—
flaring the refracted sunlight
from the splintered windshields
of the played out and smashed up: Ford,

Studebaker & DeSoto, even Nash
Rambler or Pontiac: Strata. Sediment:
a tear of rust like leached mascara

staining a faded fender as if there were, once,
stories, and they might be remembered:
one hand on the wheel, a glance, and maybe

the radio bopping Carl Perkins. Or the front
seat confessional of Did I ever tell you about
as the day’s last light slow
dances the trees into the dark.
The Language of Smoke
Having watched every 1940s movie,
you know the language of smoke:
the hand’s quick shake as the wooden match
goes Ahhh, then tosses itself away.
And the cupped hand as the wind
eddies the smoke into the night beyond
the streetlight. But above all you know
the hero’s sidelong glance, the leggy
brunette, her skirt riding up her thigh
as the cigarette talks from the corner of the mouth—
a sentimental sneer of the implied
this comes next in that language
of what cannot be said
about here. Now. The night
beyond the streetlight.


A Grammar of Things

Things survive past their time, or rather persist
in their iterations of use: a kitchen table, now retro or simply cheap,
bought new, say 1951 or ’52, for a two-bedroom tract house:
the chrome banding a formica top of swirled resin, lime green

and polished like stone, only better, because it says new, now,
just as dacron and rayon and nylon say now, say different
than the cotton she wore as a girl before the war or even the silk
ladies wore then, the ones whose men had money. Even more it says

future, as if then were a dream no longer dreamed—a long ago
the war erased and even the war itself put away, mostly
forgotten, like ration books and war bonds, like silk parachutes
instead of stockings, because now is a formica table bought on time.

Tim Hunt is the author of four collections: TicketStubs & Liner Notes (winner of the 2018 Main Street Rag Poetry Book Award), The Tao of Twang and Poem’s Poems & Other Poems (both CW Books), and Fault Lines (The Backwaters Press). Recognitions include The Chester H. Jones National Poetry Prize. Originally from the hill country of northern California, he was educated at Cornell University. His final teaching post was Illinois State University where he was University Professor. He and his wife Susan live in Normal, Illinois.