vignettes&vendettas

poetry and poets

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

sweat of asphalt on a july night



sweat of asphalt on a july night
tony gallucci


Okay, okay. 10 p.m. Sycamore Street sweats on July nights sticky from July days. On the new red and white radio tower, the one you can see from right here, blinking its come-on over and over and over, red-dark-red-dark-red, beyond twinkling brooch Brownsville and the dark yucca-studded flats of Boca Chica, in the high gulf air the smell of dank, dark churning waters oily with greed, silver-capped by the maddened atmosphere, and deep down in there where your own oily churnings lay, the smell of disgust, of the planet, volcanic undertones, roiled, choking off pores, the whole planet retches, breathes, gasps, lives.


This feeling: you see a broken-backed possum writhing on the shoulder of the road, but you can't get them to stop. You turn and watch out the back window. You cry. And you turn and watch again. And the window shrinks into a tiny tube like an old television set and that possum is far away now, but you can still see it, can't you, can't you see it, still flipping over and over, and now you can hardly breathe, and only slowly do you let it go and turn and watch the road ahead, counting every dead thing along the way, even the thistles, now dead of their own cyclic need, blowing their youngsters off into the world at large, to root deep in the scarred soil, like hair sprouting where it should never sprout, deep in your nostril, another ugly impediment to breathing what needs breathing, sea-air and salt-foam, and date palms you smell how they sound in the Gulf wind, and those early Sunday morning smells that drift across the tracks from somewhere where you don't know what they say as they tumble from bed early Sunday mornings, or even if you'd want to know, or whether they'd ever seen a possum broken-backed, or ever even been away from Second Street, off down some highway that picks out crawling things and tosses them aside face down to breathe the foul breath of sweaty asphalt on a July night.