You ride a red horse through the American apocalypse, remembering days of purple rain and Chinese oranges. Along your trek, paintings of la Santa Muerte deface the billboard ads for roadkill toupees. The wall always rises in the south—rage evolving on its pocked surface. Your saddlebags are packed with relics from a saint’s bier. The DNA of bees. Books with red, white or blue in their titles. Without recourse to your obsolete maps, the horse discovers the ghost towns where you camp overnight. Around a creosote fire, you reread Blue Highways and wrestle against sleep by playing mumblety-peg with river rats. Their teeth against your knife. It’s been months since you’ve seen color, years since you’ve gathered a bouquet. In the morning you shoot at the Wanted posters shellacked on the wall. You’ve been riding the roan along this trail like a prison sentence. Drinking gray water and eating crickets. Bone grates on bone in your hips and knees. You mark a page in the book of roads with a hair plucked from the roan’s mane. You’ve quit counting the years since women last appeared in your dreams.
Michael Brockley has had poems appear in Atticus Review, Gargoyle, Third Wednesday, and Flying Island.