Westbound PA Turnpike

by on Jul 18, 2016

Sunny humid hills clustered with leaves, puffed with bursting gusto,
the corn high from all the rain we’ve had, mist gathered in the meadows.

Cows collect in batches of milk and coal. The sky takes charge ,
vapor congeals, dense billows, like that it’s over you, a freight train edged by sunlight.

Slipping past the empty rust-belt plant, rain splotches the car,
shatters thin oil slicks with darts, as I vault over the Susquehanna.

Rain swallows cars, trucks, bridge and river. I’m slashing vainly through,
but the rain folds back, drapes layers down, then it’s all you can do

to grip steady and not leap the guard rail. On the west bank,
rain pulls the shower curtain — elongated ridges like thighs

and vapors of orange sundown ripple along torqued rock cuts.
The concrete vein draws me towards a pumping heart weak from blood loss.

The houses are drawn farther apart, the traffic nodules isolated in
little spurts of motion — pulse with instinct and intention.

Engine cylinders rotate 2100 times a minute — like our hearts, slamming and firing
forward, from point A to B. Cue the Ronnettes, be my baby now.


James Esch teaches literature and creative writing at Widener University. He is editor of Turk’s Head Review and the founder of Spruce Alley Press and a co-advisor of Widener’s online magazine for undergraduate writers, The Blue Route. His recent publications include work in Dr. T. J. Eckleburg Review, Stoneslide Corrective, and Black Heart Magazine. He blogs at eschorama.com.

4 thoughts on “Westbound PA Turnpike

  1. Andrea Wyatt says:

    Wonderful poem! Thanks for starting my day out so beautifully. I’d like to read more of your work.

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