Nothing to Do with Us, or Poem against the Crumbling of the Republic

Old friend,
are we there yet? 

You sat with me once,
outside a dirty burger joint,
a hard light at the windows.

It was just about
the ass crack of the afternoon,

mountains in the distance,

& I’d played a trick on you,
or you’d played a trick on me,

& the highway
was a home to comings & goings,
nothing to do with us.

We had hours yet to drive.

Old friend,
how long should we sit here,
breathing dust & gasoline,

watching clouds gut themselves
on the pines?

Copyright © 2018 Joe Wilkins. Used with permission of the author. This poem originally appeared in The Southern Review, Summer 2018.