White Night

Poem By Michael Chitwood

White night,
distance is done in.
Is this Heaven,
this cloud come to ground?

Our lights
are two short sticks;
they cannot reach
to tap the ground.
Our velocity's
an edge, a ledge.

In here is risk.
Notice we slow only slightly.
Do I hear a horn,
a siren in this air raid?
Here's smoke from big guns;
we've been vaporized.

We plunge.
Where are we going
that we keep going
in this?
Muhammad Ali couldn't
punch out of this sogging.

General MacArthur's howitzers
couldn't hammer it.
Nixon couldn't lie this away,
nor Clinton nor Bush.

I can see no Edward Hopper
billboards for Calvin Klein.
Great Nature has lowered
the curtain on commerce.

I am mole to this tunnel.
Even the CIA is blind here.
Wait, Elvis is singing to Ella.
I'll follow that. No, it's gone.

I tap my brakes.
What might be ahead
is blank, a history
to be written.

The first woman president
is invisible on the shoulder.
My _________ville, my _____ton,
my ________boro have vanished.

This is aftermath,
mushroom cloud come down.
Where has the country gone?
Where the vets at the VFW?

Where the ruckus at Woodstock?
And the Lions and Bengals and Bears?
Please give us back our lynchings,
our oil wars, our dead rivers.

We'll take Enron and Exxon
for one more cup of joe
at the diner of our pork barrel,
pot-bellied, waddling democracy.

Ah, there, thank God,
a mudflap with a busty
silver silhouette.
We are saved.

And now the sun,
a platinum disc
on the office wall
of the big boss exec
is burning through
and thank you, Mr. Postman,

for our speed limits,
our exit ramps and cloverleaves,
our vision, our miles of asphalt
returned to us.

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