Dogs 2010

WASTELAND LAMENTS
(5/28/10)


when I
was a child
we lived
for awhile
across the street
from a cemetery
on the western
edge
of a West Texas
town

we were
a few blocks
from the main
east-west artery
through
the community

it was Broadway
within
the city limits
and Highway 176
without
stretching westward
to the New Mexico
border

the tire hums
of the vehicles
especially at night
would travel for miles
over the flat expanse
populated only
by mesquite
and oil well
pump jacks

they sounded
the same
as our metal
wheeled skates
grinding
on the sidewalk
during the
day

those moans
washed over
the graveyard
carrying the voices
of the dead
to me
as I lay
in my bed

they
said simply
my name

my full
first name
seldom used
by the living

I would pull
the covers
to my chin
and pray
for them
to stop

eventually
I would fall
asleep
having only
foggy memories
in the morning
of nighttime
visitations

I blamed
the highway
for disturbing
the dead
even though
it was a harmless
ribbon of asphalt
carrying travelers
knowing neither
of the cemetery
nor my bed

years later
we moved
only several
streets away
and the voices
stopped

as I became
older
the road
seemed more
an escape
than a curse
and I left town
at 18

then I
haunted
the highways
never to be called
Patrick
again