God’s blood beads on the tarmac and something rough is boiling up
just this side of the vanishing point, so it’s probably time to get
off this stretch of blacktop and into the wayside bar, where every cup
runneth over and you breast a thickening fret
of stogie smoke to get to the dank back room where a high stakes game
turns against you despite your trey of jacks, and soon enough
you’re in way over your head with nothing and no one to blame
but the luck you’ve been getting since first you threw your stuff
into a duffel bag and hooked up with the halt and lame,
with the grifters and drifters, the die-hards, the masters of bluff,
the very bastards, in fact, who are lifting the last of your stash. . .
So it’s into the crapper and out through the window—you’re free
to do whatever you must, so long as that purple-and-yellow blush
in the sky doesn’t mean what it seems, so long as that lick of flame
from the hard-shoulder spillage doesn’t travel as far as the scree
of garbage in the lay-by, so long as that’s not your name
in the red top front-page splash on the trailer-trash kidnappee. . .
Just keep to the shadow-side, keep in under the lee
of roadside billboards, bed down in the roadside scrub, your dream
of Ithaca, that ghost town, though the rest is mystery—
what brought you to this and who might take the blame,
and how to get from the open road to a sight of the open sea.