Keilor-bound at the wheel,
a man plucks his middle brow over the hill.
Trucks speak in whistling brakes;
cars speak in blinkers;
billboards speak in covered-up breaths
and we, doubting ourselves, tremble forth.
Across gorges and bridges, organ-pipes hum
in the silent chorale of a wasted commute.
Gold glints through gum-trees;
grace glints in mirrors.
Wake up –
white, blue and dog collar carry this same weight
and glory hangs latent over the day.
…The notion of some infinitely gentle
Infinitely suffering thing.
– T.S. Eliot, “Preludes”
I will be late for work:
the traffic tells me so,
and Adam's curse run deep in roads
too busy to know their name.
Beaten by roadside lies the debris
and dust of abandoned schedules: here
someone burst a tyre, there
a jerry-can was left, there some refuse
of a long-forgotten breakfast.
Why do wild flowers speak
in pitches more alive to me?
Pointed, they dance in the breeze:
small, white-purple flecks of something else,
another time, another Where.
Yet life is lived on roads,
and time is stretched in tyre-marks
to places where we'd rather be.
Wake up. Gratitude's an act of grace
and this day is thick with its potential.
Nothing's lived except when it harkens
to all that defies it,
and all that belies it.
If the day begins thus, then let it, and listen:
this is where you must now be.
The climb –
up hills, up bridges, up avenues –
may smart on feeble knees,
This is not a path for driving.
There are no lanes free and your mind
will not process the path from inside a car.
Static and traffic-bound, you
will not see the guiding star
and will not feel
the weakness of your knees which speaks
much more of need than traffic knows.
the road is long yet rises to meet you
as you greet the Son…
and yet there is room:
in shoulders, between lanes,
by roadsides, in industrial paddocks.
No room, perhaps, for cars, yet feet
have space to move, if you,
traffic-sore, should rise
into the space where lavender
shifts in wind, gnarled
tree trunks climb
to upward possibility.
on desert paths; He plants
His footsteps in the raging sea.
As inlets, channels, block up here,
prepare your feet,
prepare your way,
prepare to come and see.
Note: Most of this poem was written on a chewing gum packet while stuck in traffic. Chewing gum packet attached to post.
Road, rain, traffic slow you down
but you are fast.
Your heart pounds to silence the road, and buds
turned inward block out growth.
What speaks is asphalt
and the music in your ears, the hum
of engines idling, the unexpected pause.
is telling another story: look, the clouds
gather round the sun to make it plain.
And other hearts pound beside you,
some with windows wound down, and some
with the delayed expectation of day…
there is movement in another place, and blinking
lights declare the way is near.
Listen: truth today sings in silent stasis
and beckons you to hear.
Highways have no beauty in heat of summer:
the road flattens and grass lies thirsty by the way.
Nothing to see (the asphalt carpet rolls through nowhere fast),
we dream of nothing but our pedestrian destinations.
Should someone tell the day that new light might dawn
across a languid, surprised hill, it would chuckle.
And so the road stays nonchalant, all drivers casting off the glare
of sun that blinds from sun, and day
which blinds from truest Day.
Delays are bad today; nothing moves.
Contained at interchange, a stencil house smiles, as though
to make this place feel more like home.
Small comfort: we go nowhere fast.
The morning yawns through Western traffic haze; the day’s
light’s too bright. We squint in glare.
Lane changes ache; all is standstill
until a way can open up, within this artery of roads.
No wilderness; the way prepared
congeals, and so we wait
with hearts tuned out (the voice won’t shout
that says, Prepare the way.)
We watched, static in our waiting spots,
lights red, traffic backed up Queensberry Street,
as the purple tent, pegless, half air-borne,
somersaulted across the road and stopped
at the stilled bumper of a nearby car.
The car was motionless, like ours, yet not
waiting to start. Content, the purple tent rested,
royal, carefree in this twilit crawl
in momentary grace.
It’s strange the impact that these moments have
As, silently congealing in our cars,
We feel somehow abject, dehumanised,
And in that moment that is what we are:
Mute and seething that we couldn’t save
Time on roads much worse than realised.
Still, this is not as bad as it could be:
Our tyres are safe; the traffic soon will clear;
No car bombs wait for us to turn the keys.
But think: we’ve wasted hours, we’ve wasted years…
I’d like to blame my friend who said to go
This way, but I’ll admit that I got lost.
The urge to fume does not offset the cost –
And so I’ll take the blame for this one, Joe.