By H. Russell Smith

Night Driving

Another world, another time
All too familiar to none
Except those, like me,
Who found a box on a bottom shelf
In an empty, dusty, antique shop
Resting along Main Street, 
Heaving for breath in a wheezing, unremarkable town
Just like a thousand others
Scattered along old state highways.

Back then, I drove to find myself
Accompanied by the stars,
AM radio fading along the tree line.
I was alone. Always alone.
The young go searching for each other
And find themselves in cars, alone.
Wishing, praying for it to be different, 
Counting orange cones and mile markers.
Searching. Night.
The catharsis of enveloping darkness.

I drive now mostly for necessity, often for work.
Occasionally to remind myself for what
I still seek: to feel alive.
Still alone. Sun falling from the sky
In drippy streaks and fuzzy glare
Gentle crackling of the radio
Mind on autopilot
Thinking of a desolate, familiar floor
Covered in the contents of a battered cardboard container.
I did my best to recognize them.
I couldn't. Not now, not then.
Maybe once, but never again.
The lighting is too dim.
That is how memories fade away
Into different exits on unknown Interstates
Blinkers. Right-hand lane.
Exit. Slip away into the night.
Alone. Still searching.

Listening to Crickets

Where the lights are,
You'll never find me
I've switched off the power
To soak up the silent dark.
Cricket sings:
All alone, all along!
Let breezes rattle and creak
Loosely fixed shutters
We chirp
They chant and drone
Into the night, last night
Tomorrow's eve
Finds a lamp filled with oil
We offer a single, flickering flame
To those who cannot weather
The still, humid hours
Carry our voices
To the sad summer people
And their dogs, barking, weary of slumber
La, la, la, and other useless phrases
To you, Sister Moon
We bow our heads upon bended knee
Bless us with your silver and shadow
We know your radiant glory!

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