Getting Where We're Going

By John Brehm b. 1955 John Brehm
Surfeit of distance and the wracked mind waiting,
nipping at itself, snarling inwardly at strangers.
If I had a car in this town I'd
rig it up with a rear bumper horn,
something to blast back at the jackasses
who honk the second the light turns green.
If you could gather up all the hornhonks
of just one day in New York City,
tie them together in a big brassy knot
high above the city and honk
them all at once it would shiver
the skyscrapers to nothingness, as if
they were made of sand, and usher
in the Second Coming. Christ would descend
from the sky wincing with his fingers
in his ears and judge us all
insane. Who'd want people like us
up there yelling at each other, trashing
the cloudy, angelic streets with our
candywrappers and newspapers and coffeecups?
Besides, we'd still be waiting for   
the next thing to happen in Heaven,
the next violin concerto or cotton candy
festival or breathtaking vista to open
beneath our feet, and thinking this place
isn't quite what it's cracked up to be,
and why in hell does everybody
want to get here? We'd still be
waiting for someone else to come
and make us happy, staring
through whatever's in front of us,
cursing the light that never seems to change.

Source: Poetry (January 2008).

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This poem originally appeared in the January 2008 issue of Poetry magazine

January 2008
 John  Brehm

Biography

John Brehm was born in Lincoln, Nebraska, and educated at the University of Nebraska and Cornell University. He is the author of Sea of Faith, which won the 2004 Brittingham Prize, and Help Is on the Way (2012), winner of the Four Lakes Prize from the University of Wisconsin Press. In the Georgia Review, Judith Kitchen praised Sea of Faith for its “unified consistency of tone and sophistication of approach,” remarking that the . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Living, Time & Brevity, Social Commentaries, Cities & Urban Life

POET’S REGION U.S., Midwestern

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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