the poetry of steven harz / “Gas station road map”

Gas Station Road Map_cover_BW

Gas station road map


Your history had been

written in pencil

on bathroom walls

by inaccurate historians

bent on cruel conquest

rather than mutual capture.

And while we had been told

history is written by the victor,

I do not subscribe to that theory

because, in actuality, history

is written by those who

survive the longest, and

since you are here with me,

and they have disappeared,

I have taken an eraser and

eliminated your past,

allowing us to rediscover

the world, together, using

a bottom drawer broken compass

and aiming the frozen needle

anywhere we need true north

or due south to be.

We do not discover with a plan

like Lewis and Clark and their

covered wagon wheel ruts

and Chinook canoe wakes,

but rather meander with a purpose,

taking clues from junkyard road signs and

Howard Johnson 50 state placemats.

And along the way we are comforted by

mismatched borrowed rocking chairs

and the distant big band signal

coming from a friendly front porch

1935 Detrola Cathedral vacuum tube radio

with its map of the world station dial

that helps us avoid the fault line

that runs from your lips to my chest.

And one twist of the radio’s dial to the right

points us towards Komodo Island and its

dragon discovered by the Dutch,

and to the left the West Indies where

ancient history is broadcast on

the coconut telegraph,

and each step forward is a

quicksand leap toward comfort,

and we walk the extra mile

barefoot down median strips

holding hands, with a posture suggesting

a mix of love for each other and

protection from the world,

and when we reach our destination

we will rewrite history,

yours mine and ours, with permanent ink

in the margins of a public library atlas,

and will compose our future

word for word along the rural routes of a

gas station road map.


“Gas station road map” originally appeared as a part of the Iron Writer Challenge and is contained my my book of the same title – available at Amazon in paperback and eBook.

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