Michael Lauchlan

Running Lights

The wet gray blear, lights around
the semi trailers, night stretched
across mountains, the trash and stench

and even the fluorescence of a rest stop
where there’s precious little rest.
Mystical in sleep encrusted eyes–

dash lights, jazz pouring from speakers,
a swirl of flakes on asphalt, the tunnel

of their falling and the tunnel of high beams.

Once blood flow dwindles and our legs cramp

and the last shreds of wakefulness
fall away, all is visible, all is real.

We can only take so much of this
unless, like Delmore Schwartz
and John of the Cross, we started out

as long haul truckers. When late shift
cashiers see the hands and cheeks
of the damned and peer into caverns

carved by roads, they set down
cups of darkness and the soft clicks
sound like gates opening in green

backyards that yawn in our hearts
as we wish they might again,
as we wish they really had.

Michael Lauchlan has contributed to many publications, including New England Review, Virginia Quarterly Review, The North American Review, Cider Press Review, Rappahannock Review, Louisville Review, Poet Lore, Cumberland River Review, Bellingham Review, and Innisfree. His most recent collection is Trumbull Ave., from Wayne State University Press. His next is forthcoming from Salmon Poetry.

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