You are driving home when a car comes from behind
compressing the air until you feel an inaudible
thud pressure in your ears and the Chrysler rocks.
A man exits. For each of us there is such a man
who babbles in an ether trance and plays your life
like pachinko. He waits for all possibility to careen away
reduced to a moment
when the knife that cut you free from your mother
cuts you free from this world. Bubbles grow
from a hole in your throat
that steals air your lungs were born to know.

You are without your surroundings.
Without the sidewalk crooked from tectonic shift
Without the oily smear where cars have been
Without the overhead electrical maze that hums like cicada
Without the whirling blue light that cannot redeem you.

And the man crouches in a light well
to count your pocket change.
You drift toward the closing millennium.
And he fathers a son.
And in the iron core of the earth
you father none.

Poems by John Waldman:

The Water Month
The Heat
Of Madrid
The Lake on the Border
The Woman in the Hat
The Jewelry Box
The Corner
Huber's Tavern
The House in the Town
From the Home of Furious Wonder
From What Is Left Behind
The Den of Finitude
The Story of a Mountain

TIMES TEN: An Anthology of Northern California Poets