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Two poems by Michael McNeilley

you gonna eat that?

I got on the bus in Long Beach
thanks to Traveler's Aid
but there was only a couple
of bucks left for food
so by the time I took that left
in Albuquerque I was ready
to do what had to be done
but it wasn't so bad really
nabbing food off abandoned plates
as I walked by in the
bus station coffee shop
until I got to Durango
where all the tables were clean
and there was just one guy
eating a hamburger
and I sat across from him
with a glass of water and a
newspaper out of the trash
and stared him down
he left half of it
and I sat right in his spot
finished it up the waitress
even warmed up his coffee for me
she didn't look at me
hadn't looked at him
I made it home from there
I've had steak in Kansas City
Cuban in Miami and Creole
in New Orleans soulfood in
Atlanta and barbecue in Tennessee
bean soup in the Senate
wine from a loved ones lips
and none of it
was better


Your postcard came in from Fresno
without you, though you said you
might pass through, and I write this down
because there's no return address, again.
I was really sorry to hear Bob died.

But to see you on the road again so soon,
it worries me that every time the clouds
roil up and break across your life you fall
back into your old dream, dreaming yourself
out there on a dark road hitching,

and a car pulls up and stops,
and you always just get in,
no matter if the car seems nice or not,
as if there might never be
another car.
Somewhere, someone must have convinced you
to fear that car might be the only one.
But there is always another car, and another,
and cars continue to pass the spot,
long after you've gone,

some of them nice cars,
and they leave little whirling
dust devils in the dry leaves
by the side of the road
in the silence where you stood.

And down the road, again you ride,
though you sneeze into the ashtray,
wishing for a bag to dump the butts in,
wishing, whoever he is,
he would say something.

If you do go back east the way you planned,
perhaps you'll miss the snow. I hope you find
an early spring, and that this car runs steady,
all the lights are green, the road is clear,
and when they come, the words serene.

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