- Are Those F -16’s?
Mid-March, winter’s casualties still litter the roadside, burnt carcass of a jack-knifed semi,
abandoned cars sprouting little flags. Disaster flowers, and false rumors spread
of spring. This interstate makes a philosopher out of you, accelerating into the glare
eastbound on the Mixmaster. 125 Traffic Deaths This Year. Get Your Head Out of Your Apps.
Velazquez’s Christ Crucified on a four-story Clear Channel billboard, his commuted illuminations.
“The F-16 is going to die out,” says Vice Commander Kevin on air. Who will man the Reapers?
Sometimes even the sun can elevate your terror to new levels the color orange,
as the last thin mists of fog burn fast through the dark green archipelago of trees you speed past. Drifting [End Page 50]
into the slipstream behind another big rig hauling the pristine hugeness of a turbine blade,
you contemplate the functional beauty of a giant’s wing, how you, too, tilt at windmills.
“Fields of Opportunities” is the state motto, but you desire just one.
Are we there yet? asks your life awake again in the passenger seat.
Decelerate as the new gun factory swings into view, its gleaming windows and meandering supply roads.
Was it Rilke who said live the questions now? We have so much to live for, careering forth
into the assembly of the present, emergency lights flashing. [End Page 51]
Hai-Dang Phan’s poems have been published in Poetry, the New Yorker, Boston Review, and Lana Turner. A graduate of the University of Florida’s MFA program in creative writing, he teaches at Grinnell College in Iowa.