Walking the Highway Back Into Town
by James Owens
--Michigan City, Indiana., July, 2015
Insects unstitch bodies in the weeds:
a possum on its back, the pads of its feet
turned up pink, an infant's supplicant palms;
a fresher possum, draped with a fertile tangle
of black and green flies; a raccoon simplified
by heat and time to a tattered pelt and a snarl
twisted to bite the tires that killed it.
Drivers honk or yell, not to warn
but telling the happy news that they are riding ---
traffic from the casino that simmers with money
like fortunate blood --- while others trudge in sweat
and mosquitoes, among the slain, displaced
and liable to damage. Then the poor streets.
Young men glare, astonished by their own rage.
Sticky children plague a sulking, blotch-faced
woman who clouts one from a chipped porch.
The white-haired, drunken man spilling helpless
as ashes from his raveled suit wants to talk
about storm clouds thickening over the lake.
And one teen-aged, dark-skinned girl stands perfectly
untouched on a high concrete wall, looking out
at what is coming, not down at us, beautiful, alone.
Bio: James Owens's most recent collection of poems is Mortalia, from FutureCycle Press. His poems, stories, translations, and photographs have appeared in Valparaiso Poetry Review, Poetry Ireland Review, Superstition Review, Kestrel, and The Stinging Fly, among others. He lives in Wabash, Indiana.