Manic car driving is not a door stop

                                    —Gale Nelson

This much she knew

after passing the fish market on a red light.

The dashboard blinked 5 AM.

It was all lit up, like migraine, a salt

mine in the desert.  On the gas, her foot

became an abstraction

as if driving itself was an abstraction

of unhappiness.  Who knew

her night life could've been only a foot

long?   Here a traffic light

came in three flavors: plum, salt

mackerel, a home-sweet-home called I am

where my money says I am.

She was looking for abstraction,

an interchange for Salt

Lake City that didn't go: You never knew

what you were doing, did you.  Light

from motel rooms made her foot-

sore and sad, as if the foot

brake was a crucified Christ which the AM

radio brought to light

by professional abstraction

of thorns.  She knew

the steering wheel by its salt

margins, its strange salt

sweat on her hands.  When did the foot

become a note, a tic that knew

anxiety through atomic number 95—Am,

for America?  Her abstraction

was simply a redolent signal light

that made her feel light

oleomargarine, like a still life with salt

shaker.  Was she a cubist abstraction

herself bent on proving she wasn't on foot,

that old line I speed therefore I am?

What little she knew

of door mats she knew from television light.

This was how 5 AM felt in her grip, like salt

in a footbath, a painful tooth abstraction.

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