Travel Season

Old Tree

We drive across country.
Here’s a strip mine where
there used to be a mountain.
There’s the Forest Mall
in lieu of an old growth forest.
Look how the city sprang up
on the banks and goodwill of a river.
Wonder where the river got to?

Farms are thin on the top-soil
but housing estates are thick as thieves.
Used to grow corn here.
Now it’s “For Sale” signs.
A brook bubbles purple foam.
The branches of a liberty tree
are scarred by a hangman’s rope.
And it’s hunting season…
cops and escapees.

But at least people still talk to one another.
Cell phone on the ear,
what else is there to do.
And there’s talk and music
all along the radio dial.
We talk over the music.
We sing over the talk.

On the outskirts of towns,
slag and trash heap together.
On Main Street, shops shutter for good,
make the world safe for chain stores.
How can we not be the United States
when we’re all sipping
from the same latte?

We check into a motel.
It’s every other motel
but at least they changed the wall-paper.
Tomorrow, we visit an old battlefield.
New battlefields will have to wait.


By John Grey


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