Purcellville Et Cetera

Dan Boucher

a flashing
stoplight swinging above
the four-way intersection
marks a fifteen-foot span from our
summer-heat window screen;

this city is a town because
your city ain’t a city if you
can hear a mouse fart
at three in the morning.

oppressive virginia summer,
cocaine-sweat on my forehead,
and here’s me expecting the stoplight to
produce some tiny
noise which cannot
be heard over the day-
time traffic
—“tic-tic-tic-tic,” or “bzz-bzz-bzz-bzz”—
but it does no such
thing. a drooping flag clings to its
mast without even a slight
breeze to bring it
the shape and smell of honor,
bloody horror.

then, old glory stirs
to a rustle brought on
by diesel fumes and
noisome hints
of an oncoming
semi; the rig
clambers up old route seven, more
harbinger than herald.

at eight
minutes past three
a blue pick-
up truck rolls down
both windows and
kills the engine.

metal is blasting
from the dash,
and all is lost.