Orange County Intersection

I’m standing on the corner of Valley View and Cerritos Boulevard waiting to cross at the light. I’m thinking about poetry, and the magic that I find in Robert Hass, and wondering what twists and turns of imagination and real events led to something like January. I’m thinking about how alone I felt in the park just a few blocks away, by myself at a picnic table, in the shade of a tree, and how even the school next door was silent with the children inside after recess, and how the small birds picking at the nearby hedge spend their whole life like this, under the sun, surrounded by green and far away noises.

And I’m wondering how a poet describes this intersection, almost a field of asphalt baking in the sun, the way the cars flow through and split off in smooth streams like the red blood cells flowing endless through an artery. The subtle lean of the oncoming cars, sweeping in an arc from the left turn lane that brings their heading right at me before the steady hand below the face maintains the angle of the wheel, and molecules of tire and roller bearing keep their anonymous separation from asphalt and steel spindle and the car completes its quarter circle passage three good steps in front of me. How alone the electron, the vibrating carbon atom caught in a tangled petroleum web forming the stage for this long dance.

black rubber
tire tread
asphalt rough
sun cooking
tire carcass
twists and rolls
contact patch
shape distorting
air pressure
wheel bearings
suspension struts
inside spring
relaxes as
steel body sways
away from the arc
of turn

and we control
all of this
with a certain
nonchalance
inches away
from curb and
waiting pedestrian
who thinks how
the four lane flow
splits streams of cars
into three forks
constant globs
some here
some there
like movies of
blood cells streaming
from an artery
into separate veins

meanwhile asphalt
sticky, black
Valley Boulevard
under hot sun
becoming soft
tires mainly
synthetic rubber
a polymer
elastomer
synthesized
from petro-
leum products
come to life
again
for one more dance

3 thoughts on “Orange County Intersection”

  1. Hi Frank,

    The prose portion of this work is beautiful prose poem by itself. I think trying to restate it like Hass might is a good exercise, but your poetic voice is strongest in the prose stanzas. Great lyric work!

  2. Thank you Sue,

    Funny how we so often start with one thing, in this case the poem of short bits. Then as an afterthought we go in another direction or write an introduction which ends up being more worthwhile. Glad you enjoyed it.

    Be well,
    Frank

  3. I love the prose and the poem. Love the simile of blood flowing through arteries; the momentary possibility of danger as the car completes its turn; the vivid imagery of the tire and asphalt molecules

    Carol

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