Veer-Off by Steven Ray Smith
Steven Ray Smith
The lights were purple, harlequin, and orange
but they did not mean stop, or slow, or go
like all the traffic signals I had known
since outgrowing gibberish times when foreign
everything went in and out my mouth
and colors flashing beyond the window were jellies
blinking to be eaten. On a sleety
autumn morning and already out
of time to make the stand-up, I veered off
the causeway to the side streets, just to move,
but was soon wheeling beneath a roof
of ancient pecans. I swear, it’s what I saw.
It was a signal at an empty four-way.
Perhaps an ephemeral prism formed of ice,
or maybe actual polychromatic lights,
but the scintillation was clear — to stay
lost, to speak goo-goo gaga, to eat
the riot. I swear I took an actual bite,
or was it just a nip of babel? The light,
when finally I blinked, was roaring green.
© Steven Ray Smith
Steven Ray Smith’s poems are forthcoming in Yale Review, Pembroke Magazine, Skidrow Penthouse, and The Transnational. He has published poems in The Kenyon Review, Grain, Puerto del Sol, and others. He is president of a culinary school and lives in Austin with his wife and children.
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