Karl Koweski

Travel & Transitioning

Three Poems


if you remain in your car
all you can see
is the breakwater.
ragged chunks of concrete
pieces of rebar jutting out
like mummified fingers.

Lake Michigan lays there
a dead ocean
indistinguishable from
its mortuary slab.
smell the embalming fluid,
a noxious mixture
of detergent and petroleum
byproducts pumped in
by the refinery and
the surrounding mills.

after climbing the breakwater
and finding a smooth boulder
of concrete to perch on
I watch the February storm
approach from the northeast.
the sky and sea seem
to merge creating a
seamless shirt of the world.

ten years gone
and nothing really changes.
Chicago still glimmers to
the west;
the distillation towers
of Amoco refinery sulks
in the east.
and all I ever succeeded
in doing this last decade
was killing time.
I murdered ten years
so cleanly
I didn’t leave so much
as a witness.

Returning Home

I haven’t lived here for so long
the houses seem to have huddled
even closer together as though
comforting each other in my absence

I pass taverns
Cavalier Inn
What About Bob’s
Pudlo’s Tap

I know any bar I walk into
I’ll see someone I haven’t
seen in over ten years
and we’ll act like it’s great
to see each other again

where you been?
what you been up to?

we’ll subtly compare hairlines
and biceps and how many
beers necessitate a trip
to the bathroom and nothing
will have changed though we’ll
pretend everything has changed


the further you drive
the more obvious
the template becomes

every exit
like every other exit

McDonalds, Burger King, Wendys, Taco Bell

Cracker Barrel or Steak & Shake
for the affluent traveler

Ramada Inn, Best Western, Econo Lodge

the Ocala, Florida exit no different
from the Demonbreun, Kentucky exit

it’s the Wal-Martyrization of America
diversity excised from the equation
for your traveling convenience
until the land itself possesses
the anonymity of a hotel room
negating the need to journey at all

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