This need for speed is out of hand,
the constant back-and-forth trek edging
me up to eighty, then over, just to throw a curve
in the ironed-out ribboning road,
just to feel the pounding scare
of a near roll on the turn, tongue-bite
steadying the wheel at eighty-nine,
every bump thrumming
under my feet. I slice dry highway
to the radio’s bass beat, and a fresh scent
comes off my skin, the aroma of owning
every mile. As I crest the hill,
childhood riddle swoops up:
What’s black and white, cherry
on top? I stop
only because I want to.
Stiff-creased, cocky in my mirror,
he strolls up, grinning wet
teeth. He thinks he’s got me.
But I charm a warning
and speed off – leave him holding
the ticket pad in his hands. My driveshaft
thrusts ahead, the hum and moan eating
the miles. I suck up the center stripe
and fuck that highway like a man.
Janice Northerns grew up on a rural Texas farm with a large dose of fundamentalist religion, leaving her feeling like an outsider at times. She enjoys exploring this outsider status through her poetry.
Her poems have appeared in Conference of College Teachers of English Studies, Southwestern American Literature, The Cape Rock, College English, Borderlands: Texas Poetry Review, Poem, Sweet Tree Review, Visual Arts Collective – poetry, and elsewhere.
She currently lives in Kansas, where she teaches English at a community college.