The Road Between
I’m headed west across a Plains state
and to my right is the same as to my left.
Outside is warm and bright
and I’m thinking to myself,
that if those silos held missiles instead of grain
then the entire East Coast could be in danger
but that’s another story.
This is about being in my five-year-old Camry,
with the air-conditioner and the radio on,
a station playing their “Bob Seger marathon”
as if these cornfields are stuck back in the 70’s.
I should be anxious to be elsewhere but I’m not.
Rule number one of travel is
that wherever you are, your journey owns it.
Take your surrounds for what they are
and what you’re not.
My wife is sleeping.
Why shouldn’t she.
Flat straight roads are like taking a pill
when your hands aren’t on the wheel.
The map sits on her knee like a blanket.
No use asking you how far are we from Des Moines.
Of course, I do have company,
other than her snores, and that old time rock and roll.
There’s poles and wires
interspersed with perching crows and grackles.
And not forgetting farmers nudging tractors
up and down and across the land.
The beauty of the Midwest.
is that it’s not beautiful.
The senses are as likely to be staggered
as Bob Seger is to be the future of music.
It’s like a book with lots of words
but not much in the way of illustration.
Funny but those are the kind of books I like.
John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident. Recently published in the Homestead Review, Harpur Palate and Columbia Review with work upcoming in the Roanoke Review, the Hawaii Review and North Dakota Quarterly.
Image: Land Ocean – David Coldwell.
The pasture greyed, the rattling beck mute
behind secondary glazing, the fizz of pylons too,
in a day of scarce light. The aperture of a former
home is wide as the hours require, and
each year now we shovel our signifiers,
brushing leaves across our yards as the wind
lifts. But there is no wind. Beyond the old
neighbours’ place, twenty on foot and four in
the car, an ombré smudge of tones settles –
hawthorn, sodden, briars sagging, and mud
deep, kicked up by cows gone to the byre
for milking, or fell sheep, if there were sheep.
The power station, a blackened copse somewhere
about the edge of land, fading, its cooling
towers merged with vapours that lift, sink,
sink as the sea of Hibernia turns away, its
back brushing the pile of exhausted chimneys,
almost gone, almost deconstructed. Concrete
follies of a folly in a half-life of feeding families
now lost in their own decommission. Kids now
all grown up with kids of their own and those kids
with kids. In this the division between subject and
object. Ambiguity felt as uncommon knowledge,
as our own approximate selves, knowledge frozen
to make fear dormant, fear of nothing, foam
surfing across the pebbles, the air still and
no new windmills turning beyond our vision.
This attenuated point between fog and rain.
Beyond where the trees stood, the trees cut down
where the west is lost to water. The invisible men
who packed the market squares gone back
south for new contracts, their rented terraces at
the edge of towns vacant, earth settling from that
last ploughing, our minding of this, recurring,
seen through a blue filter and smear of vaseline
and clearing some hairs from before your eyes.
Taking photos on an old SLR as if we lived here,
still. A next horizon never really reached,
only encountered in thought again, again
MW Bewick’s first collection of poetry, Scarecrow, was published in 2017. He is the co-founder of independent publisher Dunlin Press and an organiser at Poetrywivenhoe in Essex, where he lives. Recent publication credits include London Grip, The Sentinel Literary Quarterly, Coast to Coast to Coast and The Interpreter’s House. @mwbewick
Inspired by the photographs of Dutch photographer Niki Feijen
An Unfinished Story
What dreams died here beyond this threshold
where nature is carried by circumstance?
A full moon lights the skillet on the stove,
its crusted pancake of droppings,
waiting to be tossed.
The moon tells us they left without coats.
They hang in the cupboard like tattered bats,
an intrigue for spiders, a safe house for mice,
empty shells for silver fish.
Mildew soils the children’s clothes,
runs amok in their vests and socks,
grows out of their shoes, foxes
their games and books.
In the bedroom the moon is a nightlight
for the mind’s incredulous eye.
Moss pads soft over rugs,
creeps onto the unmade beds,
smothers the absence with a velvet pillow.
Ivy clings to the bars of the cot.
Nature squats in this dereliction, possessed
with the spirit of a wild child, it’s her haunt now.
At home with ruin, desertion, mystery,
she scrawls over the unfinished story,
writing her own gripping chapters,
a ghost writer filling the gaps in the plot.
Stella Wulf’s poems are widely published both in print and online, and appear in several anthologies including, The Very Best of 52, three drops, Clear Poetry, and forth coming in #MeToo. She Lives in S W France and has an MA in creative writing from Lancaster University.