Night Road Home
by Ricki Mandeville

Wide awake. I-10 moving fast, eighteen wheeler in the rear view,
stars chaining Gorgonio to sky; my Honda a sleek silver wire

threading darkness, feel of the road same as ever.
Kind highway past Kingman, dark desert

coyotes singing Blue along with Joni.
New Mexico before I know it, quick snooze in a Wal-Mart lot.

Thermos coffee: strong, with tease of French vanilla.
Albuquerque. Cool asphalt, gray whisper of dawn,

Willie and Garth riding shotgun, slow grin of sun above
the mountains. Soon a dazzle of heat, phantom puddles,

blinding fireball on the back window of the SUV ahead.
Sandwiches & cooler-Cokes taste like old journeys

my brother and I squabbling in the back seat, Mother and Dad
yelling Pipe down back there & by the time I hit Amarillo

I am wired for home, my tongue
already droppin' its strict endin’s. Tonight

I'll be there, everything the same. Time cheated again,
red Oklahoma dust thick on my fenders.

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