The road leads downward, away from reality,
a giant ramp for a parking garage,
a bobsled run packed with snow,
turns unreasonably banked,
an infinite spiral.
The road to hell is paved
The transcendent bobsled skids
onto a frigid plain covered with six feet of snow,
an Eskimo hell.
A stranger in a strange
The city is laid out in neat icy squares,
unpopulated on this Saturday night.
All the fantastic citizens have gone to the mall,
the center of everything bright and beautiful,
three miles across, yellow and red brick,
snack bars, kiosks, stores, rest rooms,
but no exits.
All that glitters is not
Each rest room is four-dimensional,
an intricately coiled inner ear that leads back
to the beginning. Pollution slithers
from the snack bars onto the store fronts,
a gigantic two-dimensional movie set
populated by extras with frozen feet
and nondimensional faces.
Let the dead bury
At the very center of the mall, an iron staircase
spirals upward into the fog, a trail
back to reality. But the staircase is not
miraculous: At first touch it crumbles
into a heap of red rust.
Let my people
—from Rattle #17, Summer 2002
Bob Johnston: “The poetry they taught us in school convinced me that this stuff was for wimps, weirdos, and girls. It took me fifty years to see the light, and I’ve been trying to make up for lost time ever since. At least I know now what I want to be when I grow up.” (book)