Poetry 2013 / Volume 44

Oh, to be a fine, young trailblazer — Brian Collier

When I think back to my life on the road
I’ll remember how the stars’ spitfire necklaced
a lake sky and how I chose then to carry this
suitcase of loneliness across the country with me
like I was selling it door to door, across state lines,
like it was my only means of making a living. Or
maybe it was a glorious and sad coronet

and we were gunning
down the two-lane highways of rural America
on tour, tramping through saloons and city park
gazebos, never knowing whose backyard
we’d wake up in next, my coronet and I, pulling
thin, orange ribbons of quiet delight up

from the floorboards of morning. Maybe coloring
the countryside with the dolorous sounds of brass,
I might’ve known souls lit like lanterns strung along
the prairies. Ass-swaying languorously in the back
of a barroom, the inaudible patrons

of the American night loom
like drunken moons dreaming of leaning in
to the brilliant, dim corona of my coronet’s beer-
colored blooming horn for a kiss. But now
what I miss most about the road

are those lake skies
and the narrow, pot-holed, paved paths
that snake around them, and how night after night
we’d find ourselves circumambulating strange
waters where the starlight might actually sway
on its surface as if a thousand Zippos raised

in ghost grips praised each star’s
daughterly sweep of light. I might’ve seen that
briefly in the eyes of strangers looking stranger
and stranger as the hours grew later. I
might’ve tried to cultivate that shine
in a pair of eyes, like a blind gardener, shears
sheathed, bringing water to thirsty flowers.

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