Ben Pershey

on my way here, that is, martin's ferry, ohio

i went under that
year like it was my nine year-old car,
and i have no business messing with cars.
around the bend on dolphin road, rte. 212 near mid-ohio
purplish-red ground cover of bushes and branches
i am wondering if we were meant to have two smaller hearts
i split my body down the middle with my forefinger
it drops off from my lap
i close my eyes daydreaming of texas green jays
juicy plums in a brown paper lunch bag
jellyfish scattered along the sand
the tide coming back for them
a whale way off
living its animal life
in a great big atlantic ocean.
i am pumping gas, the numbers racing next to the dollar sign
i hear a man with  uncompromising intelligence, an idiot counting
endlessly. then i take a second and recant
words of thanks that sometimes we are willing to extend.
i have not found tarlton cross near salt creek.
i have rested at sepia mound in the painted river valley.
i have ended up at the hopewell culture national historical park,
mound city in the scioto river floodplane:
redbud, red mulberry, black locust, sugar maple.
i have hidden with the trees
waiting for some spirit to come back for the death mask.
the ceremonies have survived.
serpent mound, adams county. i am feeling my way.
a snake's tongue leads out before me.
there is somewhere to go under this ohio earth.
i am not prepared tonight to arrive
and to call this ohio earth, trash.
i am not prepared to call any one who lives here, trash.
two wolfdogs on state route 7 heading north, they held traffic
like an eight car funeral procession.
steve said, open your car door and scare them off.
i rolled down my window and yelled, get outta here, and laughed.
the dogs turned their heads to see the disturbance,
in the rearview mirror,  I saw that they had u-turned
and were following us south. we are going 45mph. they trail
with every turn of the wheel, the hills of ohio barely want
to move, they are shells on turtles, dogs' curiosity rising.
the sun shines on a boy peeing roadside in the southern ohio dirt
and dust, the trees flutter and rust, bets are waged on baseball
and crops, a plane overhead in turbulence, a tear blue day races
toward might like a vinyl record under the needle, the music
that's playing makes slow people dance.



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to a traveler

there are some things that are fit
to be put in a book.  go and do it.
i will be here when you get back.
i've read and heard that the world
is a daily conversation.
how do you reach the traveler? or
the one that has left for good?
i send you postcards in the winds aloft.
these words are not my own,
keep it simple.  check the mailbox
of your heart.  there is something
that i want to tell you about.


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