Pitted, treated wood,
Greenish gray under overcast skies,
Clouds heavy at the horizon,
Touch sparsely green patched earth,
Dotted with Holstein free range cows.
Humidity pushing up over low-lying pines,
Three pronged crowns adorn stoic poles,
Atavistic, battered yet tenacious,
They find refuge between small towns,
Wan and drawn in an increasingly wireless
Slack lines slung between and across,
Black, cracked tarmac and faded white-painted lines.
Each driver by instinct remains on their side,
As each traverses through small towns,
Named by and after indigenous people.
Miccosukee, Okeechobee, and Kissimmee,
People once relegated to non-arid
Reservations, now in a twist of fate,
Exact from the conquerors through
Consequence of their greed,
That which they most cherish.
Not gold, not bead, nor even blankets,
The conqueror is vanquished by the
Cardinal vice of gambling; wherein
Their descendants pay back in fold,
That which they tricked or stole.
Listeners in mechanical steeds,
Tune radios that fade weaker until they catch
The hearkening voices of the evangelists,
Strongest in the Bible belt,
They strive through sheer volume,
To woo their sinners in hopes of intercession,
To spare them from the fiery brimstone of the
They make their way across the state,
Black, hot tarmac radiating shimmering
Horizons that are mythically illusive.
State Route 60 from southeast to west,
Scrub brush land married to equally
Threadbare, clapboard, tin roof abodes,
That hug tight to dusty pull-offs.
Fading, chipped, peeling white paint,
The earmarks of days more prosperous,
The recession/depression hits hardest
In towns, villages and heartlands like this.
Upon the dirt, like a dog mistook,
Lay a black Angus bull in full repose,
Obviously free from the threat of consumption,
It seems to have become someone’s
As quickly as the mind processes this ludicrous
Image, it turns attention back to the road,
As a long bed tractor-trailer rides train with
Others laden with oranges, sand or limestone.
While bored but diligent state troopers,
Set speed and weight traps reducing traffic
From 85 to the posted 70.
This inadvertent hiatus provides a group of
Black feathered, bald, red head Turkey Buzzards,
Scant seconds more to dine upon
The latest causality of rubber meeting road.
They peck and pick in apparent disregard, as
Steely beasts bear down on them,
Like a game of chicken they hop awkwardly away,
So loathed are they to depart from their
Tarmac table of rotten spoils.
As the man-made beast, provider of their prey,
Sucks hot winds and detritus in its wake,
These carnivores of the glades fight to reestablish
Their claim, having preferred to battle the on coming
Grill or fender of a tractor-trailer or vehicle,
Than lose their place in the pecking order;
And by dint of such folly, each risks becoming
His compatriots next freshly served messy dish.
Author: Ayanna Nahmias