A midnight clear
You ate mushrooms and drove your car
on snowy roads to dodge hallucination
when a lumpy form revealed beneath Isuzu lights.
It was real and bleeding with arms pinned back
in waves of glass that had no apparent maker.
You banged on a door to call the police,
tight air pulling at your goosebumps.
It was real. It was all real. He crashed his car
and bled on the road, and you did eat those shrooms,
and you did save him from quiet depleting
and frosty sleep and no one asked to see your license.
The policeman did not ask to smell your breath
or look between your teeth, so you drove away,
refused to blink, pupils as black as a burn barrel,
until the dogs loudly greeted you home.
It seems like the back wheel got him
On a mountain road among the Sitka spruce
and paper birch, a robin no bigger than a baseball
and thrown down the pass at similar speed, found
the piercing tip of our Plymouth hood ornament,
transformed from airborne streak to scarlet bloom
of inter pink and splashing ruby waters whose
seawall became the slanted glass of a 60 mile-per-hour
minivan; an evaporation so sudden it resembled
a camera flash, complete with hands, flying up
to shield wide eyes as my mother furiously worked
the wiper blades to erase the jerky murder.
Previously, on this same road, a squirrel crossed
urgent between truck wheels and with a soft tap
was at once extinguished. I remember measuring
my father’s face with a slow gaze, and he said
the only thing that made sense in that moment.
Off to war, daughter
You shoveled snow, like so many before
on a cracked drive above cicada carcasses.
You felt the ground spasm in your boots and
shovel blade, richtered firm enough to raise
your head as the freight cars drifted by.
They carried shiny tanks, the color of sand
off to some hidden battle. You stood there
in your snowsuit feeling warm and safe
and you were correct in that snowfall moment,
in that manicured town of train tracks
and craft brew commuters. That same train
would vibrate the walls later that night, steal
your dreams, leave warm weapons
around this world in which we all sleep.
Someone made us vulnerable daily
for a reason, built a premeditated boundary
of helplessness behind all our closed eyes
and prone forms. Maybe sleep is practice,
a perpetual motion machine, grinding
us up like barbed wire on an endless beach
of infinite bullets and tank-colored sand
where we lay down over and over and over again.
Trapper Markelz (he/him) is a husband, father of four, poet, musician, and cyclist, who writes from Boston, Massachusetts. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in the journals Baltimore Review, Stillwater Review, Passengers Journal, Prometheus Dreaming, Dillydoun Review, and others. You can learn more about him at trappermarkelz.com.