stuart highway

i like remote places
indian-owned coffee shops
in nowhere oman
darjeeling or
west virginia
faded roadsigns
warning soft edges
rumoring falling rocks

i like doomed birds
soaring somehow content
in woomera, the dust of radiation
below the dust of johannesburg, san
bernardino, former lovers’ minimalist
rooms and other
rookeries who fail
all traces on my boots’ underbellies

i like road-trip playlists
waltzing matilda, have you ever
seen the rain, papaoutai, ballads
my father once young
now worm-blinded
must’ve heard and heard again
with his peached ear
while his fingers tapped some wheel

i like the distant cargo train
a toy for the wuthering girl—
giant shadow-daughter of marree man—
a prickled joy in her mischief
sticking a thumb in the tunnel home
of some coober pedy opal miner
like a human child does a pie, guilt
almost unbearable unlatched from
earth so unlike her geoglyph father
once built like a tribal deity
now going invisible near
lake eyre

i like worm-bound notebooks
on my american thighs, beside me
the look of a good-enough man
a mostly-good
a more-good-than-bad man’s
hands on the steering wheel
sun boomerangs on his forearm
from the car window down the bone
of his cheek, downward
blades of sun like the isosceles
inside an envelope
where you lick

i like his glowing arm hair
sometimes mammothy
sometimes thistle
like the tuffed bushes
the spinifex growing
on the long hairy arms of the earth
the earthen arms of the endless
highway holding us between
the breathing and the breathless
grisly patches fading
as we drive forward
faded roadsigns
warning grief
rumoring hope



Photograph of Old Ghan Railway, courtesy of the author.

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