Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Life Imitates Art

Tuesday morning, a trailer tipped over on I-430 near Little Rock, Arkansas, sending some ninety hogs out into highway traffic. I was reminded of this poem from Figured Dark (University of Arkansas Press, 2007).


God is alive, programming all night radio
for Knoxville, Tennessee.
How else to explain why "Love is Alive,"
Gary Wright's great aching chestnut
comes on as my car inches
toward the burnt out Kenworth on I-40?

Because I won't go on tonight
beyond the next exit,
I'll hear the story at breakfast--
how wheel bearings overheated,
until the cab began to sputter and melt.
Whne the driver was finally flagged down,
the trailer was in flames
and seventy-eight hogs in back
were scorched and squealing.

The driver did what had to be done--
he unlocked the gate, and those pigs
that didn't break their legs
broke loose in the westbound lane, and so
I'm working a slalom of flares
and wounded hogs, shattered cars with air bags
popped, the elaborate red-amber whirl
of strobe lights.

My soul is a wheel that's turning.
I love the start-and-stop of this song,
the second thoughts and double takes,
the bass line that carries me
into the next lane,
where a cop waggles his flashlight.
meaning, Come along now, slowly.

Some of the hogs were disemboweled.
Some had the shit knocked out
in a literal sense. Others are lost,
defecating in the dark.
But because God works his play list
or is busy, banging out another solar system
along the edge of the galaxy,
He won't stop the carnage.
The truth is, God lives in the City of Angels
and sent this song beyond the skirl
of the ionosphere,
then back to a satellite dish
in Knoxville, Tennessee.
God knows I need a soundtrack,
knows My heart is on fire, that
a great hog staggers along the edge of my high beams,
froth at his mouth and a clot
oozing at his shoulder.

Two deputies approach the bloody pig,
three shots ring out
amd the pig drops and steams
as I crawl past.
The only way out now is to drive out,
meaning one final lane change
before I am waved back to speed.
The song blinks away on two repeating notes,
I am within the black-and-white lines,
Alive, alive, alive.

-Greg Rappleye


Blogger Virgin In The Volcano said...

I will be thinking of burning pigs now for days and I will be blaming you.

10:25 AM  

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