Saturday, August 6, 2016

John Pleimann

Look Twice Before Crossing

There’s never any blood when you call it road kill.
The words are styptic with a built-in laugh track
every bit as fake as the one on I Love Lucy.

When you call it road kill, it’s only a furry patch
of asphalt, stone deaf to any bone or flesh broken
or ripped, stone deaf to any sound the creature made.

The accent is on road not kill, so your voice grinds
death into the earth, and you slip by with a steel-belted
hum that numbs your urge to stop and check for signs of life.

When you know what words can do, take them on the road.
Call your failing marriage road kill, your best friend’s betrayal
road kill, your tearless grief at Mother’s funeral road kill. 

There’s nothing words can’t keep from you, no emptiness
around you words can’t flesh out, nothing words can’t clean
up when things spill out that other words can’t contain.

              --originally published in The Gettysburg Review

John Pleimann is a professor of English at Jefferson College in Hillsboro, Missouri.  A former advertising copywriter, he still appreciates a good jingle. His poems have appeared in numerous journals including The Evansville Review, The Connecticut Review, Natural Bridge, Atlanta Review, Antioch Review, and The Gettysburg Review.

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