Karen Greenbaum-Maya

Foothill Freeway Sestina

Wallace Stevens never worked Wednesdays.
Just like the frog from Budweiser
(even if his folks did come over on the Mayflower),
he’d croak his lines, find the mot juste,
until he and his words merged
and he surveyed his city of hope.

No illusions about the duplicity of hope
for Bukowski.  Sunlight made him wince.  Days
went by, he never knew ‘til he’d emerge
wanting what he couldn’t find in a Budweiser.
Everyone knew he was juiced,
but then, see what did, what may flower.

They say John Keats was a delicate mayflower,
that he died of blasted hope
because some critic took his latest work and juiced
his best poems.  Pique or despair ended his days?
Not likely.  Listen, maybe he didn’t chug Budweiser
like Dylan Thomas, but what he wrote was no whim. Urge

drove him.  His beloved watched him submerge
as he left.  What drove, through the green fuse, the flower?
Hint:  it was not a Budweiser,
or Persian visions of domes with the simplicity of dope.
Keats loved, he loved, he could not stay.
Dylan and Keats were pushed over the edge, used

to feeling like they’d been juiced,
and still their systems urged
them:  Listen to what the winds say,
forget about the folks who left on the Mayflower,
whose version of a city of hope
wouldn’t equal the buzz from a Budweiser.

Freeway commutes leave you sadder but wiser.
Better to be broken than never juiced
up into complicity with hope!
Pursue, until your breath fails, your demiurge.
They too ended up dead, who took the Mayflower.
Give me bards when the days

are all Wednesdays, full of warm flat Budweiser
and Mayflower prudes, give me the juice
that I might merge with felicity, with hope.

* * *

Author’s note

All telutons were found between the 605 Freeway and Claremont, as follows:

City of Hope has the canswer (billboard);
This ramp will be closed on alternate Wednesdays (CalTrans sign);
Mayflower moving van;
Jamba Juice truck;
Lane closed ahead/please merge left;
and of course, the unmistakable smells from the Budweiser plant.