Skip to main content.

Driving in Amahrica by James Lewis
published in Volume 1, Issue 3 on May 17, 1994

I lost my coat in America
walked around in the state campsite
in what's left of their
vast wilderness

In America, men have jaws of stone
they pulled their few possessions and small children
in handcarts
to the New World
wives walking behind
praying
They sell comic books for religion down there,
have motel beds that massage you for a quarter,
T.V. shows about Hitler's teeth,
and gossip
in the frozen food section

In a liquor store a black man called a white man
a brother
white man protested showing me the colour of
their skins
I said I thought it was a form of expression
they laughed
someone mentioned a fight
I ducked

Damn coat
always blame someone else for the things I lost
Ma said things will work out in the end
that's when
I was too young for her to know me
That coat's gone for sure

So many miles in the desert
makes a family want to explode
look at that horizon
you can't see anything else
makes you forget where you left your coat
looks like rain
hope it won't last long
It's getting dark
I better go find her
I saw a guy today
lives in a bathroom off the Interstate

Hey, we're tourists
picture taking, stone arches
stepping around the U-Haul
river rafting the Colorado
Santa Fe Chicken
coffee in the pub
driving down from the mountain's deer and poplar trees
to the red sugar bowl, by the Colorado
feet in the muddy river
off roading
slickrock, lizards, and bats
kids working tables
up to my neck in Navaho jewelry
This lady tells us her grandad's a medicine man in a teepee
up on a mountain
eating peyote
Sure, we just need a place to sleep

The Grand Canyon
Ick komme mit Deutschlander
The sight every American should see
Il ne parle Francais, mais il essaye
Cin-cin
tip the water jug back
Morning, dusk, walls like rust
and wind

It's a journey, I tell her

East Arizona's the bottom of a tide pool
barrel cactus and yucca trees
Lake Mead - blue playing field
Have fun!
(they're driving off to gamble)
Fat man cleans a fish
That's a good fish!
Baseball hat on the porch says,
Sold three thousand bags of ice!

Wind carries the heat under the curry smelling tree
smell from the what's-that-flower? rides the heat
Viking woman cradles her baby
rides a fast boat
her husband tows to the lake
We talked to a philosopher
Knew he was, he smiled so_
unexpectedly
lives in a camper with his dog

Viva fucking Las Vegas!
Wayne Newton's down with flu
Three-forty-nine breakfast in the Paradise Buffet
We sneak past the slot machines
to the res-taur-rant
birds sing caa-caa, ooee-ooee
Don Ho: moookie looukie loww
Guitar: twayiianng
An angel: no doggie bags in Paradise

On edge
I watch butterflies
cartwheel over the hood of my new truck
going down into Death Valley

Wind always blows
In California it blows sand
from the lake drained for L.A.
driving it thirty forty miles an hour down the highway
into my new truck

I snap
get out behind a shack
read a threat in the window
rub the pits in the windshield
listen to country radio
sandblast my legs on the highway
see a hole and go
wind knocks the truck around
like those butterflies

We stop at a drive-in
I consume
coffee, Marlboros, french fries
see her back as she runs away across the parking lot
to call her mother
I go
quietly fetch her

Drive north into June snow
so
Motel 6 ecstasy

Can't wash a truck in Mammoth
(like to keep ma truck clean)

Over the Sierra
love them snowy streams and rocks and trees
down to drive the Yosemite
500
take pictures of Park Rangers and waterfalls

In the west, grassland lies rumpled like golden fur
Lake Shasta, skirted in red dirt
needs a top-up

I-5 North to home
timberline
home
home green
Jungle!

go to this issue