Interstate Sonnet

By Carl Marcum Carl Marcum
A cigarette kiss in the desert. The wind-proof arc
of flame sparks inside the speeding Buick. Menthol:
a break from the monotony of highway nicotine—
most intimate of drugs. Make this mean sorrow
or thermodynamics, whatever small gesture
there is time for. Light another one, the vainglorious

interstate dusk and ash—the long, silver tooth.
This shirtless abandon, this ninety-mile-an-hour
electric laugh. The edges of windshield, haphazard
chatter. The clatter of the hubcap and the thunderclap:
the white-hot retinal memory of your life as a Joshua tree.
Permanence in the passenger seat. This long haul,

this first drag—nothing like cinnamon, nothing
like the iron taste on the back of your mortal tongue.

Carl Marcum, “Interstate Sonnet” from Cue Lazarus. Copyright © 2001 by Carl Marcum. Reprinted by permission of University of Arizona Press.

Source: Cue Lazarus (University of Arizona Press, 2001)

Discover this poem’s context and related poetry, articles, and media.

Poet Carl Marcum

POET’S REGION U.S., Midwestern

Subjects Activities, Travels & Journeys, Nature, The Body

Poetic Terms Free Verse, Sonnet


Born in Nogales, Arizona, and raised in Tucson by his Mexican mother and Caucasian father, poet Carl Marcum earned a BA and an MFA from the University of Arizona.
Marcum is the author of the poetry collection Cue Lazarus (2001), part of Camino del Sol’s Latina and Latino Literary Series. With humor and imagination, Marcum writes poems that explore his experience as a medio, or individual of mixed race, growing up in the . . .

Continue reading this biography

Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Activities, Travels & Journeys, Nature, The Body

POET’S REGION U.S., Midwestern

Poetic Terms Free Verse, Sonnet

Report a problem with this poem

Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

This poem has learning resources.

This poem is good for children.

This poem has related video.

This poem has related audio.