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Bottoming Out

Midsummer and no moon. Low beams on the dry highway.
And that twang from a silver disk? It's Sister Rosetta Tharpe
On her gitbox, raw voice argufying for the Lord.

I no longer know what music suits me. For some moods,
The skeletal airs of oboe and bassoon. And then I give in
To a pigfoot piano, to the bark of a swollen saxophone.

Sometimes beauty becomes so neurotic it can't look at itself.
In the arc of the car, maybe I've taken the last wrong turn,
Gravel under the wheels, gravel under the tongue.

How little we change over the stale years, living
On this small blue stone, not on some planet of tilting rings
In a cauldron of stars. And not even a rumor of moon tonight.

Gauges waver in the radium glow of the dashboard lights.
Beyond the windshield, vapors hang from the vanishing point.
I steer by instinct now, by nudge and muscle and spin.

The mind at midnight travels out on vectors of exhaust,
On its own drone and grind, moving toward some great capacious phrase
Fluent as itself, the nomad mind, free among the rude mechanicals.

Elton Glaser


Fall 2011

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