Nebraska Center for Writers

"O" STREET, LINCOLN, NE
by Joel B Peckham, Jr

You have heard the rumor that this street ends somewhere
past the railroad tracks, petering out with the last
of the asphalt before a river, or a cornfield, or in a distant city
at the edge of Iowa. Don't believe it. How can nothing pass
into nothing without continuation? This is a street where no-one
lives but everyone works, where every breath is wind-blown,
and like paper driven past the stop lights over the rise
in the hill to the blackened windows of a "gentlemen's club"
where a neon woman, her mouth open, whispers her lie — we want
you here, anything can be bought. Streets like this go on, endless
in the urban sprawl of every dying city in America. So I will speak
of it as a kind of prayer for the empty house on the corner of 27th,
with the sloping porch and for-sale sign hanging loose on the door,
everyone knowing it will not be sold or occupied, knowing
that my words, with nothing left to stop them will reach beyond
the Wyuka Place of Rest — est 1869, beyond the Forbidden City
oriental restaurant, the Texaco, Robbins Mortuary, past the Gateway
Mall, beyond this town, down the river, through cornrows, to reach
another road, highway 80 or 35 and pick up speed, all the way through
Pennsylvania, to New York to the Atlantic and then straight
to the ears of God — a prayer of continuation, of existence,
traveling the corridors of the throat saying O and again O and O, O, O.

Reprinted with permission
from Black Warrior Review
Copyright ©
by Joel B Peckham, Jr


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