Published on Academy of American Poets (


In winter traffic, fog of midday
shoves toward our machines—snow eclipses
the mountainscapes

I drive toward, keeping time against
the urge to quit moving. I refuse to not
know how not to, wrestling

out loud to music, as hovering me—automatic
engine, watching miles of sky on the fall—loves such
undoing, secretly, adding fuel to

what undoes the ozone, the endless nothing
manifested as sinkholes under permafrost.
Refusal, indecision—an arctic

undoing of us, interrupting cascades—
icy existences. I cannot drive through.


Copyright © 2020 by Khadijah Queen. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on January 11, 2021, by the Academy of American Poets.

About this Poem

“I wrote this poem in my head on my way to work last year in my sports-car that I love driving, a snowy late-January drive toward the mountains, pandemic looming, impeachment trial pending, climate disaster accelerating, and a feeling of complicity and powerlessness decided to capture itself in language, in recognition, as a challenge to stop—to choose differently. Tiny words I should probably have tightened or complicated force a slowdown. The form is sonnet-length but isn’t a sonnet. Jagged tercets take up most of the poem, but the last two lines are a nearly-even couplet: an effort toward evenness, interrupting a chaos pattern masquerading as traditional or recognizable order.”
Khadijah Queen


Khadijah Queen

Khadijah Queen is the author of six books including Anodyne (Tin House Books, 2020), I’m So Fine: A List of Famous Men & What I Had On  (YesYes Books, 2017), and Fearful Beloved (Argos Books, 2015).

Date Published: 2021-01-11

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