Two Poems by Emily Strauss

“Night Driving”

imagining buffalo herds grazing

under the moon’s white haze

the grasses dipping to the rifling

breeze, or stars behind the drifting

clouds after the last glow disappears

quiet— motor humming on straight

lines of roads shining under
occasional lamps, a lighted rest

stop, chicken shack, late open bar

flashes out to the black asphalt

country music stations appear

quiet— they fade over the next

rise, static passing through keeps

you awake sitting still, counting

each exit, billboard, distant

farm house down its dirt lane

but you drive on unnoticed, mere

headlights sweeping the barn

quiet— a momentary glare, cows

blink half asleep, a fox stands still

in the ditch, waiting, you stare

stiff, shoulders hunched, dark

beyond the margins, the hills waver

and settle again, imagining

their own shadows and the outline

of your truck as you blow past

throbbing pistons against them

“The Old Road: Footprints”

Lost among the tall sage

two bare ruts separated

by bitterbrush and poppies
ground into fine beige dust:

at sunrise appear small tracks
footprints of pocket mouse,
coyote, deer— tiny rises
and hollows arranged just so.

When the quick rain arrives
big drops throw themselves
into the dirt, erase the five-
spotted prints with an urgency

of their own, pelting the road
until the sand forms ridges—
afterward the signs erased
as if the night never was

shrews and woodrats
didn’t venture out, stand
a moment motionless, cross
the old road in the moon.

Emily Strauss has an M.A. in English, but is self-taught in poetry. Over 130 of her poems appear in dozens of online venues and in anthologies. The natural world is generally her framework; she often focuses on the tension between nature and humanity, using concrete images to illuminate the loss of meaning between them. She is a semi-retired teacher living in California.

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