Some people say your tires will keep you safe
when thunderheads materialize
out of the blue like slow-motion shots
of ink dropped into a beaker. They say
the bolt may fry your wiring, radio,
and speakers, but you’ll be right as rain,
safely tucked inside your car’s cocoon,
while vapor gauzes up the windows.
They say too, that an airplane is struck
almost annually, sure as pink shocks
of pansies, slowly rising out of raised beds
each April. Your non-stop may experience
minor turbulence, the lurch and jolt,
a little rise and major drop,
before returning to a smooth glide,
like a hawk riding thermal rifts.
The last time my stomach dropped,
I mean really dropped, was in a dream,
which you can imagine was terrifying.
But in the fog of half-light, it came back
to me as seen through frosted glass.
We were together, driving cross-country
and halfway to California, pulled over
on the shoulder in Kansas to wait
out a storm. The plains went on forever,
which meant freedom. Me & Bobby McGee
was spilling from the speakers between
the static crackle of whatever station
we’d trespassed into: Joplin singing
freedom’s just another word for nothing
left to lose. And it struck me then—
now fully awake and years after the first
sparks arced between us—the low rumble,
which comes back always like love
and has gotten so much easier to remember,
and is so much more like flight.
J.P. Grasser's poetry explores the diverse regions he has called home, most insistently his family’s fish hatchery in Brady, Nebraska. He studied English and Creative Writing at Sewanee: The University of the South and received his MFA from Johns Hopkins University. His work appears or is forthcoming from Prairie Schooner, Iron Horse Literary Review, Crab Orchard Review, West Branch Wired, The Journal, Cream City Review, Ninth Letter Online, and Redivider, among others.