from west of the divide

By Monica Regan

early rush at the Kwik Mart Gas 'N Go

clerk says no jobs left in the county—
people have to fill up two, three times a week

trucks and trucks

                         inside: deep fryer bubbling up
greasy smoke charges out the vent into the cold
little packages of ketchup piled
next to twinned silos of salt & pepper
ropes of licorice, prepaid phone cards

a man in cowboy boots and a peterbilt hat scratches a stack
of lotto tickets with a quarter
                                                          no eye contact
with the passersthrough—
                                        ghosting the edge of town
                                        in a shiny beige rental car

Ford Taurus, 4 Door

all roads in yellow and black and white numbered
and named crisscrossed and bounded in green signs
reflector circles finger grooves in the steering wheel
little black knobs for cool air heat country music
news from Washington from Jerusalem the seat
adjusts and with it the sideview mirrors from any
position forward or back you can see what you are
leaving behind and what follows

Crooked Tree Motel

cinder blocks cemented and painted over to look like wood
planks greasy door knob yellow cracks in the sink in the
mirror sea shell soap a thousand miles from the ocean
strange the things we decide are treasure polished abalone
sapphire something you have to dig for something you can

in the painting above the bed:

cowgirl with tasseled gloves smiles at the beast—
hoof brown, muscled eye

a ribbon for her braids
(the cowgirl or the beast)

white ribbon for her brown braids

Highway 2

neighborhood dogs bark and circle hoarse from barking all
day at passersby the road busier now something else to
blame on the city that and the price of gas all these people
driving up and down the highway to fill up the little
parking lot squares neat and shiny a package of candy in all
flavors anything you want just pick salt on the roads gravel
ground smaller and pushed to the side the pass will be closed tomorrow
deep and cold and the snow keeps coming sudden and
constant as reflectors speeding towards you in headlight