Jammed

By John Grey

At rush hour, we are all belligerent punks,
jammed from four lanes into two
just before a 95 overpass.
I’m behind a truck overflowing with scrap metal,
its tarp barely tied and flapping like an enemy flag.
On my left, a Chevy is trying to squeeze by
both of us in the breakdown lane.
Guy behind is honking.
He wants me and my late Japanese model
to nudge forward an inch.
Under my breath, I’m like that homeless man
I saw berating the homeless woman –
all the cuss words I never use
come spilling out.
The guy in the Chevy is stuck,
can’t get by the truck.
A Volkswagen that followed him
into the narrow no man’s land
is now flashing his indicator
like he wants to ooze in front of me
if the scrap metal truck ever moves.
Fat chance, German beetle.
I’m in full military mode now.
Every inch of blacktop can only be won
by sacrifice of blood and sweat
and yes, vocabulary.
Somewhere behind me,
there’s been a vainglorious cut-off attempt
One guy is out of his car
and threatening another.
The villain of the piece doesn’t flinch.
Nor is he about to roll down his window,
I feel that same rush of blood.
I’m itching to take somebody down
just for having the nerve to be upon
this particular stretch of road
at this very moment.
Of course, when not at the wheel I’m so unlike this.
Remember my patience, my faith, when
everything was falling down around us.
I didn’t give our debts the finger.
I didn’t swerve in front of your mother
and send her flying into the median.

Everything that deserved
three blasts of my horn
got away without a sound.
Even those rear-enders I took in stride.
But meanwhile, back on the highway,
some guy on a motorcycle
is weaving in and out
of all these stationary vehicles
like he’s fresh out of smart-aleck central.
The devil on my left shoulder
would love nothing more than for me
to suddenly pull out and send him flying
over the guard rail.
And yet, you and I live
between our own guard rails.
Anything that veers too close,
I rein back in.


John Grey

John Grey is an Australian poet, U.S. resident, recently published in Stand, Santa Fe Literary Review, and Lost Pilots. His latest books, ”Between Two Fires,” “Covert,” and  “Memory Outside The Head,” are available through Amazon. He has work upcoming in the Seventh Quarry, La Presa, and California Quarterly.

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