Motorcycle Week 1997 From a Crossroads Town in New Hampshirein

It’s the insomnia,
not the sadness

that makes me a scribe
to these night songs.

The weight of a room
in each welded hour.

I read, or I write
from my second floor

Sleep might be lodged
somewhere between

the phone call
that doesn’t come

and the now warm beer
waiting on my night table.

But I forget all of this
as a pulsing, orotund growl
calls me to the open window.

From the street below
the chrome silhouette of a Harley,
a firedrake on rims and rubber,

grips the curve of the intersection,
slows down, then pushes on
with a combustive rumble.

The first of the season—
lonesome harbinger
ahead of the procession.

But soon,
gleaming metal machinery
& leather-clad riders
will thunder through

the leafy shadows
of hinterland towns
for at least the next ten days.

In the asphalt distance
the single red taillight
burns like a match,

then vanishes under
the blue vault of night.

I press a finger to the screen.
My ears chasing,
with a sudden lust,
after the belled throttle-chop

that spills & fades—
somehow absorbed like rain
into the mountainside.

Still, the heft of the
floral wall-papered room—
withered, palimpsestic,
peeling in the corners.

I taste the beer.
Pull down the shade.

It’s nearly summer.
Tomorrow I’ll find
the neighbor’s peonies
have opened.

The burden of
such supple heads
bobbing in tongueless

Slender-throated stalks
begging for a truss
under the noon sun.

What are you looking for?