The Poetry of
Jack Scott


The road itself was night
dark as space,
studded here and there
with random light
streaming past as if in flight,
as if celestial, but not so
no stars or comets, galaxies,
only tollbooths, turnpikes
treadmill roads
rest stops begging quarters.
New England names streak past
a flashcard for each passing town
twenty names related in a row
extended family of
northeastern aristocracy
much the same
for every by-passed town,
none yet for where I want to go:
a name on a flat map
unreal until I get there
at the end of mileage
measured by some hick
in love with distance
and not so sure of light.

Six hundred miles
of car chase on a screen
a game played with machine.
The prize is simply getting there.
Six hundred miles of road,
a one-night trick,
stag film without a cunt or prick.
My love is home
asleep from yawn of ten
till plus or minus dawn.
I will land before she lofts,
not victory, but vacuum.

My eyes are tired and burn,
but bore into the thickness of the air.
My ears tune in the beacons of the night,
outposts sharing loneliness
until their signals fade
and I dial the safe in
to another.
Tendonitis stings one driving arm
and then its alternate.
The body moves because I tell it to,
the car because it’s driven.

Caesarian from the Thru-Way
no forceps mark upon it
architecture veiled by dawn,
its dwellers hidden
a sleepy blink from lowered lid
arbitrary for gas, then gone,
then fog to Portland.
I cannot glimpse Maine’s water,
but hear and see activity,
and feel a tide of memory.

I found the place I ate
lobster breakfast ten years past
with beer and Bromoseltzer
a dockside dive, clean enough
for watermen and stevedores.
Closed and swanky now
with cocktails and Italian chow.

No fog before
I’d expected wooden sidewalks,
Far North, Frontier, fortress walls.
Anachronism then, far moreso now.
Progress has caught up to both of us
Portland has a By-Pass
and North is further north, of course
In the modern traffic
when you by-pass By-pass
you can get lost times three.

It is day around me
bright luminescent fog
I drove through my deficit
of sleep and comfort
toward destination
still further north
in space and time:
a woman sleeping in a bed,
myself beside her,
until then, uncertainty.
Incomplete trajectory.
I have landed in an alien day
indistinct upon the map.
Rand-McNally, take a nap.

I wish I could
but I’m between two beds
high on sleeplessness
on tightwire spanning them.
I’m not flying, merely up
dangerously so.
Down is a direction,
gravity its compass.
When I’ve come back down
slowly-if I do
I’ll drive on toward familiar,
which I have never seen,
or failing that, its embassy.
I’ll drive toward the land of you
seen only dimly
in a dream.

L19 ®Copyright 1973 Jack Scott. All rights reserved.