The sun rolls up like jackpot,
the thousand blinding coins of it spilling
across my windshield's dustdapple.
Glory be: my lucky day, flush and prime
as a fresh dime, as if the world been spit-shined.
The asphalt ahead's gleamed to a high glare
and I play my pedal past the red line, and faster.
Must be what faith feels like, to drive believing
in the persistence of highway lines
whose white paint's whitened to a wide white field,
to glimpse in swift periphery and guess
you've passed a rest-stop's spare oasis,
to catch the flicker of a cactus shadow
as a signpost toward some providential end.
If on such a visionary road
I should see the world's material scroll
back to show whatever lies behind
who would blame me? Who'd blame if I sublimed
each raw thing into a revelation—
the big-rig flipping its rockchip stigmata,
the naugahyde peeling an unction
from my thigh. But no. Faith's for the sucker
whose luck's run out Faith is for the fear
that sometimes you get cherries, and sometimes
you pull the handle and it comes up blanks.
Copyright © Kimberly Johnson. This poem appeared first in Uncommon Prayer, published by Persea Press, 2014: All Rights Reserved.
Reading “Blanks” is, for me, like finding my new favorite food: at once celebratory in the mouth & also maddening that it did not arrive there sooner. Read it aloud. Again, again. Indulge: the sonic play in this poem will keep you fed for weeks. In twenty-five lines, Johnson has satisfied every personal obsession with loose sound & tight rhythm, & she makes of all of us prophets in our waking & believing we can be woke.
Kimberly Johnson is the author of three collections of poetry, most recently Uncommon Prayer (Persea Books, 2014), and of a translation, Virgil's Georgics: A Poem of the Land (Penguin Classics, 2009). Recipient of grants and fellowships from the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Utah Arts Council, and the Mellon Foundation, she has recent work in The New Yorker and Slate.www.kimberly-johnson.com