Issue 7 :: Spring 2005  
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A. J. Rathbun

The A1 From Milan to Bologna

When the A1 ends, however it does,
the sea will welcome it with flowers,
though this bachelor stretch is hours,
movement muddied by love of sun,

another yard framed by shared barn,
farm, villa, castle, antique,
each more historic than previously
possible. It’s a start and stop affair,

between fashion and sausages. A white
cat skates a basic fence littered
with innocent blood, guilty blood.
A factory’s smoke arrives in sky

like a chest exhaling ten minute miles.
Small cars and smaller cars. Traffic
thick as every driver’s isolation.
The median’s black calligraphy curled

like licorice. I breath the brake’s
hard squall as elbows lock ten and two,
dominant green plains rolling into arms,
eyes red, staring at enclosed motions,

hot iron words defining the bones
beneath this stuck waterway. Be alive,
the road says, or dead. Go, or
not, to a roadside restaurant dishing

fettuccini and marinara to 100 Italians,
10 Germans, 4 French, and I—
sweaty out of swearing cars, forgetting
that we have to get back in, go on.

White Coal

Who knew water
was so solid. Who thought
water would wash
you tangled up in bedsheets,
one thin ankle an ingot
out the back of the bed
like a rose blooming
from barbed wire? Who
with liquid heart believed,
first, that water dying
between rock drop
and rock equaled power,
guessed that we’d end
at 4 AM swerving to a hotel’s
narrow creek, hotel bar’s
mad river where a long-
talking local turned
to water that turned to ice
that turned a mirror
into whiskey and whiskey
into your face
so much your face
that it made Saturday
night Sunday? People
forget, but water?
Water fills sleep with you.
You’re a cloud breaking.
You’re a world of rain.
You’re all wet and unavoidable.
Oh, my water, what have I done
to you? Who gathered this wet
bucket? Who wore morning
to a knotty husk? Who left,
switching off light as water
continued to let loose energy
we never thought we’d lose?

The River Known as Prospect Avenue Nth

Nothing on Prospect’s banks
is noted by local news.
Even Mingus’ gun shots
to the ocean are ignored.
Wet buckshot a mad gull,
a window that looks over
the river. I moved here
away from you. I moved in
to this apartment,
with its balcony view
of street and river
followed. In the kitchen,
a sea horse captured.
In the bathroom, a roiling
scud. In the bedroom,
a historical asterisk
riding sea birds. Now,
I survive the river, live
within second floor newsprint
and swollen tin, not useful
to everyone, for everything.
Not alacritous fishermen
or fish tipped from Old English
cans. Not boys surfing
memory’s boards. Not birds
sniffing chucked bottles.
Not you in your glass boat.
Photo credit: Corel