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[Poetry] Two Poems by Aly Allen

Buying Gas with Quarters from my Center Console

Though it sets behind me, I watch as the sun turns clouds from cotton to taffy—pink to peach to burning red, crimson carved horizon. Passed swaths of green— uncut, unkempt, peripheral— fields of orange and brown, flank the highway, a line connects horizons, teases the speed out of me. Arrival on the mind—the journey is a nuisance. Who would wish to linger within limits? Global Positioning System reads road signs before I make them out, reminds me about upcoming direction to blame where I am becomes where I am lost. No turn lanes, no-passing zones, no flow to traffic. Headlights tuck into my bumper, urge the speedometer higher, & the shoulder drops off, ravine stretches down as far as road does out. What escape is there except forward? Toll roads are always the preferred route. Away from the moment, I cross inviting intersections, Main Streets, and speed traps. The right of way yields. For a moment I question if I’m driving on the same road from before. The voice of the GPS drowns, bubbles just below the surface of my eardrums. Beats stretch the lines of light like astigmatism diamonds. I drift over the median merge headlights oncoming.

I Miney Moed Every Major Decision

Déjà vu is not meant for

me. Intertwined reality.

Repeating what has not

happened. Iterations of ideas

so perfect though, they must have

occurred before. This

cannot be the first time.

We must always remain in

the midst. Embracing

either extreme and how their ends weave.

If I had chosen another

toe, perhaps I’d be living

coastally, still soaking, still seeping,

drinking and not yet weeping.

Never made it out onto or into

the ocean. It’s not the sharks,

it’s the vastness, the endless liminal

swaying, the pitch, the fear of turning

around and suddenly seeing.

Aly Allen is a parent and a veteran with PTSD. She is trans, queer, and neurodivergent. She won the 2019 Lillie Robertson Prize for poetry. Her works have been published in Glass Mountain, Defunkt Magazine, and Inkling. She earned a bachelor’s in creative writing from the University of Houston and an MFA in poetry from Oklahoma State University.


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