In the U-Haul Parking Lot
T-shirt armpits haloed with salt, Big Mac
on your breath, you wait for a cab to take you back
to the one-bedroom you just moved into.
Perched on a wire, the crows daven and caw.
Styrofoam peanuts skitter across the lot, tumbleweeds
in this western. You’re the stranger who rides a rental truck
into town, along with two cats for whom you feel
no affection, forced on you by the ex who called them
painful reminders, though their names are Squishy and Sam.
In a game she liked to play after sex, she was Squishy
and you were Sam, one cat cleaning the other’s fur,
causing it to purr, yawn, and curl contented into a ball.
You’ll get used to them, as you do with anything
you live with long enough. But you’re not worried
about that right now. You’re noticing the highway,
how the cars are just cans, how each can contains
a heart, how each heart—that soft and solitary pump—
throbs in a darkness never broken.
From the balcony above the pool party we can see
the incoming asteroid. No biggie. We’re happy
with the way things are, plus or minus a python.
We invested early in seawater, worshipped the sun
as it shrank the poles, purchased a fleet of surplus
Blackhawk helicopters, perfect for strafing refugees
who huddle along the rim of the Grand Canyon,
now filled to the brim with dead tennis balls.
There’s room for nostalgia, romanticism even,
but don’t kid yourselves about the way things were.
It’s better to be an apocalypse hipster, surfing
the tubes of a haywire sea, than a dandruffy old man
recalling flecks of glitter in the mud. The prairie, for him,
was just a bunch of grass, but for us it’s one huge engine.
Owen McLeod’s poems recently appear or are forthcoming in Field, Massachusetts Review, Missouri Review, New England Review, Yale Review, and elsewhere. He is a potter and professor of philosophy at Lafayette College, and he lives in eastern Pennsylvania. You can find out more, here: http://www.owenmcleodpoetry.com/