A lifelong Illinoisan, Andrew Galligan studied writing at Bradley University and Northwestern University. His work was twice nominated for AWP awards at Northwestern, has appeared in the Susquehanna Review, Spectrum, and Sonora Review, and was recently named a finalist for the Gwendolyn Brooks Poetry Award. He works for a medical device company in suburban Chicago, where he lives with his wife and daughter.
Slow death tick of red lamps. Clenched rotors hold on crumbled nails. Power-steam ice cream trucks thunder against sandwich bun diesels; a de-mufflered VW bus loses its undercarriage to rust. Drugged so slow on this raceless track. The gorgeous morning sun runs up overhead, teeming animate yellow; but I'm a ducttaped drip bucket collecting radiowaves: naughty office romance callers, Rihanna on three different stations, politician confab on Morning Edition. Sledge-horns and thumping bumpers; lethargic cars waking hungover from too much transmission dirt, too much exhaust cooking the roadpaint. Every one shaking as the lane reduces. Road Work Ahead. Reduce Speed. Fines Double. Pylons squeeze. Clamp. Now imagine: as a child, you had legs of water and your arms held hills. You grew into limb and mind for grappling trees, rivers, facades and lovers. Footstep cartography consumed you - want of getting swept under. Quick as this route could grab and wash, the axesmash of eight eight-foot axles halting forty tons of riveted steel and hydraulics jars you back - brake pressure whoosh a catharsis caustic through bone. Last one vanishing in the work lane, blinking anxiety, overdubbed by what the fuck's your deal? ripping through westbound lanes diamond-tipped; some once-beautiful thing
No ripped-orange sunscape lost. Not ballfield spikes or bricked-dirt cathedrals; not me
and Joe chugging Grandpa's Budweiser. Don't let the ashtray of still-lit tropes betray
you: Facing mountains of unsecured debt, consumers will swipe genitals for
electromagnetic comfort. With the champagne lake home segment cornered, line breaks
have been removed to target a broader market. A guy in Phoenix manages my
retirement. Facts were securitized and sold at discount to an off-shore dealer who
handles prose poems. The syntax laws are favorable. Asset values are stable. Let me be
clear: I have lived like a licked popsicle. Cranked cotton candy from blue raspberry ears.
Fallen always before bodies, felling temples - a skin arsonist. Now a simmering fraction.
Anchored and ropeless and tongued-over. What's lost are the steel drums of day sweat.
The few moonlight riffs of baritone clarity. Commodities will fall in overnight trading
and I will still feel the shower running me down. I will peel back the demagnetized rind.
I will sit myself in a circle and answer the tough questions.