Gapers' Delay

Locked solid, this road, with bright links of steel:
a spell; to the south, flames dance on a side hill.

Grass takes wife with fire, leaps
like thought — a gas spill. A light wind weeps,
and smoke clouds brown in billows above.

The darkness before dreams descend shoves in.
Alarms prize the air. On the road, trucks shimmer

like stalled salmon. They are slowing; they hamper
the highway ride –

the thoughtless, wordless ease, pleasure cruising, the air
singing through all open windows, radio glare
playing pleasurable meaningless favorite hits,

gone: exhaust coughs.
The drivers seem fit

now to hunger for the fluid illusion of ease,
here, caught up in some transition, some need:

mired in the spell
of some Renaissance sprite,
here, in concrete, grunting through the night
of gaper’s delay —

centuries locked in hallucination
come down now to all this: concrete: creation.

Allan Johnston is the editor of the Journal for the Philosophical Study of Education. His poems have appeared in over sixty journals, including Poetry, Poetry East, Rattle, and Rhino. He is the author of one full-length poetry collection, Tasks of Survival (1996) and a chapbook, Northport (2010), and has received an Illinois Arts Council Fellowship, a Pushcart Prize nomination, and First Prize in Poetry in the Outrider Press Literary Anthology competition.