Nov 302015

by Mark Vogel



Over and over an endless story retold out past Topeka

in prairie wind, sand, and moving sky just like

in that over the top Kansas song, as six week old kittens

awake, and spill mewing from the depths

of back seat blankets, the last breathing

remnants of flickering Denver.  Just me and them

rushing east for a long haul, straight on

to the not-so-bright lights of Kansas City.


Eighty miles gone and dark clouds shroud,

killing afternoon light.  Then a cold Rockies

revenge wind shakes the car.  Snow spits first

in Goodland, then blows in frightening gray

winter murk, the fat heavy flakes covering the lines.

Wild to get on, a Californian in a Lincoln rushes

from behind, crowding close, then fishtails

off the road, and I know then how much

I have underestimated—how lost I am

in white with bald tires, lonely heart racing pale,

pulling the car to the side, lurching onto the plain.

With the ignition cut, the snow blankets

windows, while behind me tumbling kittens

are awake, scrambling to stay warm.


Behind closed eyes, so soon comes the knock

on the window, an officer checking, then

saying go on, this is no place to stop,

followed by the limping metallic crawl back

on the highway, and the mumbling instinctual

explaining bleak danger to crying kittens,

then the slipping attempt to outrace the

grey inertia.  So subtle the defrosting vision,

how moving alone alters chemistry,

so ten miles on in thick clogging cold air,

the radio sings loud the raw Kansas song

so sure, translated as wild and free strength—

necessary, though I could never sing along.