Nebraska Center for Writers

RUNNING THE BULLDOZER
AT THE STATE STREET DUMP

by MICHAEL CATHERWOOD

Fifty-two years earlier
I would have saved Rommel
in the African desert.
Instead, I inhale boxcars of stink
as gulls circle with the litter
and scout fresh garbage.
The ground is soft as cake
where my tracks dig
down into the buried heaps.
Litter snares in the north fence
and sunlight finds broken glass
where junkmen dig for prizes,
browse and poke at garbage,
toss mangled valuables
into the backs of their ancient pickups.
Commanding small destinies,
I stand before the field
of dump trucks; they are slow movements
on a map. The diesel smoke
chokes upward as I grind
this monster into a crawl.
The dozer's bucket is a gravedigger's hand,
and all the garbage is nervous.

Reprinted with permission from Borderlands
Copyright © 1995 by Michael Catherwood


DARE
by MICHAEL CATHERWOOD

I want to believe it's love
that pushes a boy's head
down, ignores the rails and whistles,
wears down the rails
into an intimate shine.

Sound captures landscape
in the hills that wind into plains
where brown defines the roll of fields,
the boredom that dares.
Rails follow at a distance
from the river bank, and electric poles
flow across hills like a picket fence
wound to the horizon. There,
trains push into caverns then stagger
and sway across the trestles.

Mostly it's a dare,
a poke at boredom hills
whisper. Pennies
thin as razor blades
no longer entertain
crisp eyes.

The last
possible moment, and the vault
from track to water
is a movie, time
fans as the sky opens
out over the river. The steel
sings a collapsing whine.

Reprinted with permission from The Nebraska Review
Copyright © 1995 by Michael Catherwood

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