Stranded in the Land of Transients

(1978)


by Louis Daniel Brodsky


The Casket Truck

For miles, I hover above the highway,
In the backwash of a vault company’s truck,
Staring at two caskets juxtaposed,
One silver, one bronze.
In the morning sun, the ornate skin
That covers these twin containers
Resembles crinkled foil I’ve often used
To wrap leftover meat and cheese.

Mesmerized by the sight of these sarcophagi
And frightened by their stark, funereal obtrusiveness
On an otherwise quiet and private drive,
My mind squirms, turns apprehensively
To Yeats’s apples and Sir Thomas Browne.
I feel myself being buried alive
In a catacombed potter’s field
Of gurgling intestines, lined with urns.

For miles, I linger behind the speeding coffins
As if connected by an involuntary curiosity
To confirm their destination is different from mine.
Ahead, my turnoff looms.
Nervously, I watch to see which way
The caisson will go, then exit alone,
Toward the river, heading west,
Into a raw fog stalking me from above.

 



Summary:

This volume’s forty-seven poems trace Brodsky’s life as a road-poet and manager of outlet stores, during a time when he was "itinerant minister of surplus and flaw," traveling throughout the Midwest, "selling his soul wholesale," by day, and assuaging his loneliness, at night, with wine and music, while hiding himself away in hotel bars that might absorb him in their "dim-lit anonymity."






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