This poem appeared in the New Guard Vol VI
I once saw a collision of realized dreams at America’s convergence point—where I-55 crosses I-40— where the Mississippi River unloads its barges onto the tracks of Burlington Northern and Union Pacific —where it all comes together, in West Memphis, Arkansas
of all places. It was at the Petro W. Memphis a 24-hour truck stop just down the road from the Southland Greyhound dog track and across the street from a McDonalds that hasn’t changed its McRib is Back! sign since the last time the McRib
was back. Outside the station I saw a line of trucks, their sleeper cabs idly humming while a lot lizard ran cab-to-cab. She was living out her running-away-from-a-drunk dad dream while earning for a pimp possessed by Iceberg Slim locking-down-the game fantasies. The drivers—arguably the backbone of our economy—sat strung out on Yellow Jackets or Jesus or high school memories of more innocent fumblings in a more innocent dark.
This is the story of how your produce got to the grocery store.
As I walked into the gas station I took note of the specials from the adjoining restaurant - soaped on the windows—fried fish plate, Monday—Thursday. French fries and drinks; only $7.95.
This is the story of a mom and pop day-dream-turned-reality of one day opening a restaurant.
Inside I saw a lawyer, tie loosened, raccoon like circles under his eyes, hand over a crisp c-note to pay for his cigarettes. The worker, an immigrant from Pakistan, pulled a pack of Camels down from the wall of tobacco behind the counter. Back to work, said the lawyer, after accepting the change.
This is the story of one of the storied huddled masses—yearning to breathe free—handing over a product grown by Carolina farmers to a man who won the paper chase only to, tonight, find himself stuck in a Memphis basement writing briefs.
I joined a line of people, some with Lucky Quarter in hand, waiting to scratch the silver off cardboard carriage rides to wealth and see freedom looking back as if playing peek-a-boo. I scratched and imagined myself awakened from the American Dream’s slave your way to emancipation hustle myth. Two cards hit, but small, so I re-upped and scratched back to zero. I drove home day dreaming about what it would’ve been like to walk in with the news. Lake house. New car. Quit your job.
This is the story of how dreams are often best served as dreams