(Jess Kegley)

Jess Kegley

Passenger Seat

October 29, 2017

“Give me the map,” she said,

Her outstretched hand unsteady

As the road’s demanding happenstance.

“I can’t steer if I don’t hear

Someone tell me where to go.”

“I know!”  I told her,

And she glanced a moment

Down her pointed shoulder

At my face, emphatic with frustration,

Bolder without hesitation,

Pinched with listening

To static frequencies of silence

As the miles ran sorely on.

My eyes scanned poorly

Over ocean waves of streets

While beats of ambiguous basslines

Whispered crinkly secrets

Through the radio

With the sound low

And the knob turned

Almost all the way to the left.


Meanwhile, greyish matter mulled

Over twisted, winding colors-

Purple strips crisscrossed by

Light-blue veins and changing hues-

And, looking up,

A grey sedan and unplanned chatter

Pulled over between the clover-field

And the raining, rippled road,

I realized with steely eyes:

I had no idea where the heck we were.


Oh, sure, I knew where we were going-

She’d shown me a picture-

But I’d forgotten how to read,

To ride, to write the right way,

Where– who– how–

And what on earth was I supposed to do, I thought,

Sitting in that gritty situation,

Witty words and quick remarks

All disappearing once called, with–

Oh, no.  Is that–


“I Feel Pretty” had made a home

In the absence of the regulars.

Pretty, witty, fine, and pity:

Lyrics rattling around; I pity

Everyone else whose mind is swimming

With untimely interruptions…


Wait a second.

I’m still lost.

“Give me the map,” she’s saying,

And I’m praying

For a spot of luck.

Her hand is almost twitching,

Fingers itching at the stuffy air,

And it’s only fair, I think.

Between the plink plink plink 

Of the raindrops on the windscreen

And my leaning, lingering, long-lost looks,

I hand her the map

And let her help me

With all of this crap.

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