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Praying for Trash

by Amber May

Poe Slam 3.png

I am roadkill, piled high with the least of them…


I approach the inanimate, slow the car 

Time (or something like it), also slows 

Please, let it be a discarded teddy, a soggy sock,

a ball of steel wool...

I shiver. It’s a squirrel. 


Fluff of tail still coy, on high alert

little hands poised upward as if awaiting a beach ball

guts spilled, pornographic, as if from a crowded womb

Could this be Grandpa, reincarnated

or the squirrel-equivalent of Einstein (America’s gpa?)

killed before he could complete 

the first formula in his last notebook?


I approach the still-life, swerve the car

Space (or something like it), also swerves 

Please, life, science, God, gods, Dali’s melting clocks,

the circumference of circumstance

Forrest Gump’s floating feather of fate and chance, Please,

let it be a broken branch, a stolen purse,

that lost remote from two TVs ago...

I shiver. It’s a crow. 


One wing unfolded, erect

Each passing car teases the bounty of

rocket-science-perfect feathers, with its surge of hot wind

Could this be Georgia O’Keefe 

without her paintbrushes all pent up with poetry

Why did the crow cross the road and stop halfway?

To nibble on the freshly killed squirrel



I approach the mass, stutter the car

Thought (or something obnoxious and indulgent), also stutters 

Please, let it be a chunk of insulation, a bag of banana peels, a box of nothing... 

I shiver. It’s a possum. 

Her name was Tracy Louise. 

She was loved by a ten-year old girl 

whose capacity for empathy would make Saint Francis weep.

Did you know, possums purr without purring

their ears are like petals and their tails are stronger 

than your neck


Night killing

It is the same memory. It is the same dream.

Here, behind the wheel, I am a broom made of God and wasted day.

How small is small enough

not to count

not to care 

Moths do their thing while I do mine

but the road was theirs first.

My windshield, my tires, my grill contort The Grim Reaper to verb

headlights become spotlights

for massacre most accidental

too late to stop 

too narrow to swerve

Purity of physics is on my side, not theirs

but I am on their side, not mine

They burn for the light, the light, don’t go into the light… 

The collision is quick and seamless, this time.



I approach the pile 

Trust (and other illusions), also approach

Please,  let it be scraps of metal, treads of tire, luggage lost on purpose, un Ugly Sweater Party sweater set...

I shiver. Two raccoons. 


Curled up like commas with no clause between them

lovers in their prime, Sid and Nancy (minus the malice) 

their hands like our hands, but cleaner

dexterity to create and destroy

to compose without witness without ego

Fingers search for food like Galileo for patterns in the stars

stars with no need for names



Windows up, but the smell hits first, regardless 

and I know death (or something crueler) 

has carved its initials into these new souls 

Please, let it be a dream, an afternoon nap from which my mother’s cat soon wakes... 

It’s a litter of baby skunks. I shiver. 

The weight of the world, the evolution of technology,

the desperation to get to work six minutes early has popped the perfect capsules 

of their potent defense potions, so much for defense 

cherry donut red oozes where a moment before 

they curled plump and promising 

Where is the road’s mercy where is anything’s mercy

They are babies, mere babes, they were innocent, kinder than kittens 

merely new

They were merely 

they were babes 

Like your babes


Cruising (Speeding)





It’s a deer. 


Her eyes 

must have curtseyed 

a thousand pains 

before death closed them, bowing. 

Beauty is a spectator’s sport

The deer, more beautiful than


than the most scrumptious supermodel 

backlit by the glow of the Sistine Chapel, David and God singing in sighs  

almost touching

almost Michelangelo

never touching, almost and never 

finding themselves interchangeable

(them / selves)

The Artist

The God 

The Man

The Words

the word, almost

the word, never... interchangeable.


When I was eleven or twelve 

in the car with my mother, we hit a dog. 

From a nearby house, a child came running

He was shocked into a new season. 

His family was there, heartbroken, not angry, they understood

When it kills you to kill you’re not a villain. 

We were not the villain, but we were the instrument of this ravage-rude surgery

and so we stayed with the family, there on the road, let our faces fall with them

We stayed to do the nothing that could be done. 


Speeding Approach Swerve Please, It’s a cat. 

Soul (perfect)

Body (destroyed)

your Zen master born backwards


Spacing approach swerve, please, It’s a buffalo.

Endlessly rolling its eyes like Sisyphus rolls his boulder

Soul (squandered)

Body (squandered)

Culture (squandered)


Driving, jaded, approach swerve shiver, It’s Jesus. 

His skin was made to withstand the legions of misunderstandings 

to willingly surrender to the self-righteous sun 

but his bones were not calcified to endure 

the breath of metal, speed, the distraction of the driver…

The road ate the water on which he walked 

The family sedan knocked down the wood on which 

they spread his flightless wings and you can take a seat 

next to this sadness but he will not be returning anytime soon and

There is no innocence after this

Original sin and original innocence



Driving Approach Swerve Shiver Please

It’s me. 

Body (recognizable), soul (disoriented) 

fingerprints unravel, curls shrug, let loose their battle for buoyancy,

freckles press to asphalt like type in a closed book I never finished reading

i never finished writing… she forgets 

the daily mirror-storm

and what all that effort was for

She preferred humor to hubris and 

reciprocity to symmetry 

Her man was the world’s best kept secret

she was a living epitaph, plagiarizing herself for kicks

she meant well and will be missed

she’d rather be sleeping


DrivingApproachSwerveShiverPleaseIt’s a glove,

this time.

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