from White River Junction
Remember the fat man in the company van
talking on a cell. His aluminum ladder.
How the Hindu woman behind the counter offered me
the USA Today.
The girl working the register at the burger place
saying, Thanks for the fifteen dollar tip.
The teacher who told me she was born in Bath,
New York, not far from where I grew up.
People take the time to tell you these things.
They hand you change.
Everyday, someone asks us if we need help.
Tonight, the cop steps out of his car
at the housing authority,
two kids threatening each other
and all he can do
is take one by the arm and gently pull him aside.
You'd think every night this goes on somewhere.
You'd think, what is the pilgrimage.
What is the poem.
What is the equivalent to transformation by fire.
What is this desire.
It's the same road to Bath.
Same five-star room, or four, or three.
Same chains along the road.
I tilt a plastic bottle under the bathroom faucet.
I wash my hands, my face.
Hang my shirts on the one wooden rung.
I write poems about crickets in the field,
then get up from the chair
and walk out the motel door to the field-
the moon is up there, I see it,
punching a hole in our sky.
Three Sheets to the Wind
One night I crossed over
Fitch's bridge in my parent's van,
so drunk I hunched over the wheel
I must have slipped the usual speed traps,
past the station where I stole gas, once.
No one saw me then, either-
dumb luck, more than likely.
I should have laughed my way over the railing,
into the river, my knuckles clapping the wheel.
Last thing I remember was the bridge.
Then I was in my bed.
The blackouts: they had happened before.
I panicked and ran out to the garage to examine the van.
Jesus, I thought.
Not even a scratch.
About the author:
Sean Patrick Hill is a freelance writer, naturalist, and teacher living in Portland, Oregon. He earned his MA in Writing from Portland State University, where he won the Burnham Graduate Award. He received a grant from Regional Arts and Culture Council and residencies from Montana Artists Refuge, Fishtrap, and the Oregon State University Trillium Project. His poems appear or are forthcoming in Exquisite Corpse, elimae, Alba, diode, In Posse Review, Willow Springs, RealPoetik, The Pedestal Magazine, The Battered Suitcase, Unlikely 2.0, Sawbuck, and Quarter After Eight.
© 2011 Word Riot