is on a mission to run me down.

Behind the wheel it drives, speed

demon tailgater tearing up

asphalt, leaving curled ribbons

of Vulcan on the road. We drift

together, matching gaits, tread to

tread. Headlights drilling the back

of my head, tethering us like twin

buoys, womb-tight. Overhead,

Fanta orange horizons

drip, and the Santa Anas boil

down hillsides, those makers

of meek wives stroking knives

and ruffling my hair. The dangers here

are hard to resist. Every hitchhiker’s a cat

purring its way onto your lap

to strum picks into bare thighs.

Yet it knows me, knows what’s

aerodynamic, what dives under my skin

without a splash, withstands

the gales and battering and drills

extra holes in my belt, what

lights up the dash and disturbs me

into motes to salt mountain passes.

Mile after mile the yellow lines

pulse. I count them off in the dark

peeling off of the yucca clerestory

and dirt domes. Everything reveals

its true state at ten and two o’clock,

and I realize what I’d be without

the chase and the devil

winds, without the high beams

in the mirror, herding me

along this desert cosmic axis.

What I’d be when America’s mask

unmasks America.