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After Midnight

After midnight in the summer heat,
the black river of the road flowing out and out,
windows rolled down, tires buoyant as water,

the car floats through the night gone still forever
around the hospital on the hill,
the neon of the ER turning the waiting eyes to glass.

Mist rises from the river,
the moon nowhere in sight,
only thick-leaved trees sweeping the cool black.

Secret in her power, like a sunroof
sliding open to the air, Athena touches you
and makes you, to yourself, younger, stronger

--vital as the river where rats
along the bank breed in the sweet grass
infusing the heavy air,

the radio tower
above the quiet city beaming
from its lone eye a voice sobsinging,

"Spring can really hang you up the most". . . disenchanted
siren who sings you back into yourself
warily hoarding the charmed strength

of your middle age, your eyes not on the stars
but on a shadow under the trees
like Cyclops in his cave

praying to Poseidon to deliver you
to destruction even as you boast, "My name
is No Man, No Man is my famous name--"

the car hurtling weightless through the open night.

-- Tom Sleigh



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