Blue Highway Jamais Vu
I travel unnumbered highways between Muncie and Plainfield in search of revelations. A few
dozen songs shadow the interior of my Firebird with the back pages of a man who hasn’t tasted a
woman in twenty-five years. Across the bridge into Nichts, I downshift past blower plants and
glasswork shops behind PROPERTY CONDEMNED signs. A casket factory idles through its
final days as a mausoleum for trespassing lovers. Tattoo parlors and pawnshops tinsel the town
square. One church spotlights beheaded saints in its stained-glass windows. In Klanwood, union
men with fading pink slips camouflage themselves beneath cigar smoke at the Joker’s T & A as
ex-teachers crawl, thong-naked, through strobe lights and sawdust for the bait of greasy dollar
bills. The jukebox honky-tonks “In Memory of Elizabeth Reed.” Someone’s daughter waits on
DWI patrol in her Crown Vic a block away. Armed with handcuffs and a badge. There are always
intersections. Crowded bus stops and haunted crossroads. The gray men at Steak ’n Shake
pretend to study yesterday’s gazettes as they leer beneath their minor league baseball caps at the caramel and golden legs of cheerleaders who shimmy against a Friday night hero in an orange
varsity jacket. Refillable cups of envy steam beneath fluorescent lights. On the outskirts of town
a gaunt figure in dark clothes hitchhikes along the night road. November spills from her
backpack. As I shift into reverse, the song cycle returns to its beginning. I’m learning to be
beautiful in a world in which all of its prophets are broken.
Michael Brockley is a retired school psychologist who has not yet learned how retirement works as he continues to work in rural northeast Indiana schools as he has for over thirty years. Brockley’s poems have been published in Atticus Review, Gargoyle, Panoplyzine, Zingara Poetry Picks, Clementine Unbound, and Flying Island. Poems are forthcoming in anthologies that focus on small town life and poems inspired by Bob Dylan.
Chad Parenteau is Associate Editor of Oddball Magazine. He has a new book coming out later this year.