In Honor of National Poetry Month This Year…

…this time I’m NOT hosting a contest!  I know, I know, SHOCK.

Instead, I want to share other people’s poems with you.

We’re kicking this month off with another poem by Fady Joudah, whose collection Textu I reviewed on this blog not too long ago.  This is “American Gas Station” from his book The Earth in the Attic (published in 2008 by Yale University Press as the winner of that year’s Yale Series of Younger Poets).

Happy National Poetry Month!  And if you’re out there writing a poem, I would love to know about it.

***

American Gas Station

 

I never knew Bob.
He was older than some countries
Or a staleness between the teeth and lips,

Nothing the tongue can’t sweep away
With few strokes in the middle of mountains
Which are creatures of god.

I had already seen the black-magic-
Marker sign taped to the glass door
Of his gas station,

In the god-damned Sierra,
Where I was grand and American,
Chrysler red and rented, running on empty:

Bob died last night.
And the pumps were locked,
The moon a cataract,

And the man inside, head in one hand,
Waved me away with the other.
I never knew Bob —

But I imagine him bald,
Scalp showing through the mesh of his hat.
I was on vacation,

Tired of killing
Patients and saving them,
And the thought that I might walk for miles

Up mountain roads near dark
Angered me. I admit
What  wanted:

A Coke and a bag of chips.
The key to the toilet after traveling for hours.
I wanted to fall to my knees for oil.

And I admit I have, too many times,
Run on pressurized fumes that pop
Like soda when I finally reach a station.

And because of it,
I was once late for an anatomy test.
And because of it I now

Reset the odometer
Each time I fill my tank,
I measure emptiness.