Like a Ballad

© 2015 by Christopher Clymer Kurtz

I picked him up on 81;
A dusty summer afternoon;
He asked me for a dollar; I lied that I had none.
We didn’t talk for quite a while,
Watched the signs that marked the miles,
He shook his head, told me he was far from home.

I pulled up to the corner store
Just as she came out the door, with a
Pair of tickets, desperation made her sure.
No dice: back in for more,
Another chance to beat the score,
I watched while I was pumping gas; maybe this would be the one.

Like a ballad with no melody
A fragment of a memory
A garden lying fallow, waiting to be sown.
Like a manuscript stuffed away
Or sleeping through a sunny day.
Fishing line left tangled at the creek last summer.

He kept his face behind his sign
“Need food” to hide his eyes.
Red apple by my seat, but the light turned green.
The car behind me wouldn’t wait
So I sped onto the Interstate,
Took a bite and hit the road, pedal to the floor.

Like a gambler or a wanderer
So many lessons left to learn.
Always searching for that hand.
So much broken, so much burned.