January 19, 2009
Gasoline A week ago I spilled a can of gasoline onto the dirt floor of the barn. A gallon or so soaked into the earth. Since then, I’ve had headaches, can’t catch my balance. And I can still smell the gas from more than 20 yards away. It reminds me of hitching west and this ride I hooked in the back of a truck the color of rust. When I shook the driver’s hand he smiled. His teeth looked like a caterpillar, and I knew I was beat. The guy kept all these rags back there, soaked in gasoline. It was warm and I fell asleep in a cocoon of reek. When I came to, it was almost time to get out. I could feel caterpillars on me, thought I was going to suffocate. He said the free ride was over, it was only a matter of time, and I didn’t wish to be out west, didn’t care to sit in any more cars with strangers and talk about the pace or weather back east. I tried to lose the smell in a stream, thought I sent it upriver, away like father, the attic, his ties.
<“Gasoline” placed 3rd in the Ver Poets Open Poetry Competition>