It was an age that crucified itself;
age meaning not only era, but time
slicing across locale – Cartesian crux
graphing the crosshair framework of the age.
Just as the road galumphed across the tracks
dragging an occasional muffler, dodging boxcars
that might practice perverse synchronicity,
the age’s axes clashed and transfixed.
The road that trusted redemption beyond the curves
though it dwindled into overgrowth and rusted Edsels
without puncturing its map, transversed rails
ploddingly plotted forward spike by spike.
The road that dusted steeples, ragged fences,
barns unavoidably red and horizontal ladders;
the road that slogged and skidded and guttered
(having no appointment to keep with almanacs),
thwarted tracks advancing to destinations:
towers that needed verifying, clockworks
to test, rendezvous with a future, radio waves
to chase to where anything could be packaged.
The road was made of tracks, and the tracks
promised roads off the edges of the soil.
The linguists must have exchanged their labels; roads
revealed where we’d been, tracks inveigled us away.
Could one pinpoint one’s orientation
by reckoning distance from each axis, temporal
and spatial? Or could we say the more removed
from the junction, the more lost in one’s quadrant?
Far from any nexus of zeitgeist, the lost
of our quarter plowed their furrows straight
as bone assumed, over ribbed mounds
from which crops of flint emerged every season.
It was once upon a place but not a time.
Folks lived in rows of one dimension – roads
that shunted tracks past horizons. Shunning compasses,
they believed their sole pole would align with itself.
While I, reared to cock an eye to the road
and bred to cock an ear to rails’ rumble
held up snapshots in black and white, hoping
to tint them with glare from galactic fireworks.
DENNIS GOZA won his first prize for poetry at the age of 19. A playwright and actor as well as poet, he has been touring the U.S, since 1992, entertaining children and their adults. While a film critic and actor in San Francisco, he was involved in the founding of the San Francisco International Fringe Festival. He has written more than a dozen plays for the theatre company he co-founded, and has composed the music for many of the productions. His plays have been produced in festivals in Chicago, San Diego, Houston and North Carolina. His poetry has been published in Clockhouse, Gemini, Dime Show Review, River River Journal, and Waccamaw Journal; and he has published a volume of poems, Tortoise Dances.