West Virginia natives drive the 2nd class state highways hellbent
twisted curled asphalt counter-graded blind curves
serpentine treachery downhill
out of forested mountains into valley sinks 
kamikaze deer lurk at dawn at dusk invisible
our stretch of Smoot-Dawson is death alley
three persons killed in two years ramming trees 
and fences on curves at 50 mph
and a deer totals my farm helper’s car
on the turn by Meadow River wetlands 
a high school senior
grew up working pa pa’s farm 
for her ever back pains and migraines 

wary of logging trucks hauling tottering loads
rushing to nearby lumber mills or to the I64
mile mark 150 on-ramp East
for a 70mph run to Covington
unable to stop if coming suddenly upon a slow pickup
or Dawson Road God Forbid my farm tractor doing 13 mph

I listen to Philip Glass’s songs “The Hours” and “The Kiss”
for the first time a chance download 
channeled from the iPhone through Tacoma radio stereo speakers
drive split-eyed
one eye checks rear view mirrors one peers forward
mesmerized by melody
I erupt into weeping
heaving sobs explode out of my mouth
psyche bottled up breaks through a dam
a vehicle speeds up behind
I pull over to stop
at a wide spot in the road
to compose myself

ancient Egyptians define the religious emotion
imagine how hieroglyphs could say this
homesickness for God

suffocated on phenobarbital
suppressed by Dilantin
hear not I in the choir
the rhythm or beat of holy words
nor sing I on key
diminished fire diminished light 
of longing to be
in between dies irae and the doxology

in Winter a small Episcopal church beside a factory
Jefferson’s craftsman stone chapel Summers open 
their small organs untuned
sparse congregations few sing
nor rafters ring
Glass’s fingers hunt melodious piano lines,
thump clumsily, critics say
but this day
Orphée invents music descends into my lost mind
surfaces victorious in the Tacoma cab
my legs shake 
hands shake
in the driver’s seat
born



Ron Tobey grew up in north New Hampshire, USA, and attended the University of New Hampshire, Durham. He has lived in Ithaca NY, Pittsburgh PA, Riverside CA, Berkeley CA, and London UK. After professional careers in Southern California, he and his wife moved to West Virginia, where they raise cattle and keep goats and horses. He is an imagist poet, writing haiku, storytelling poems, spokenpoetry, and producing videopoetry. His work has appeared in Constellate (UK), Prometheus DreamingFishbowl Press Poetry, Line Rider Press, Bonnie’s Crew (UK), Broadkill Review, and The Cabinet of Heed (UK). Video poems, “Days Rise” and “Open Your Eye” are forthcoming in The Light Ekphrastic (November 2020).

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