ron whitehead | without blinking

without blinking

zen and the art of driving 100 miles per hour
Past Brawny Taylor and Others on
Ohio County’s highway 69 one-lane bridge
between Beaver Dam and Centertown

part III: down and out in Kentucky

the bridge

The head must bow and the back will have to bend
Wherever the (workers) may go
A few more days and the trouble all will end
In the field where the sugar canes grow
A few more days for to tote the weary load
No matter twill never be light
A few more days til we totter on the road
Then my old Kentucky home good night
Stephen Foster

at 3am on a hot summer night in western Kentucky
my eyes flash open and I’m on the floor
of the yellow farmhouse
cross the field from mom and dad’s
in the middle of nowhere
not able to sleep I dozed off for a second
when someone turns on a light
and it’s blinding my eyes
and here I am at the end of time
down and out in Kentucky
here I am wondering whether
life’s worth living
all the pain
and someone’s turned on a light
and it’s blinding my eyes
and I’m a broken man
buried in a tomb of self pity
I’m failing like no others dare fail
but at 3am
on this hot summer night
on this plywood floor
as my eyes adjust
and I see the room
filled with lightning bugs
come in through broken windows
and they’re all round me
filling the room
with golden light
and almost in a dream
I see Stan
and we’re in the yellow volkswagen
doing 100 on highway 69 between
Beaver Dam and Centertown
and a car’s coming the other way
and Stan and I glance at each other
and in that glance I see his struggle
his fear his anger his defeat
his defiance his will his desire
to succeed
his willingness to suffer
to pay the price
to see his dream become real
and we look back to the road
to Brawny Taylor’s car
and we’re doing 100
headed towards the one lane bridge
and Brawny Taylor ain’t slowing down
and neither are we
eyes steady and clear and
we’ve seen death
and been told we’re crazy
but we’re holding at 100 and without blinking
we meet Brawny Taylor at the center
of the one lane bridge
not a breath of air
between cars and walls
and as we pass without blinking
I see Brawny Taylor’s
mouth drop open and fall to his chest
and in that moment of passing of seeing
I know that like Stan I will pull myself up
off this dirty rotten floor
and live again

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