“The Lights” A Poem by Jeffrey Yang

From the Collection Hey, Marfa

November 30, 2018  By Jeffrey Yang

The Lights

One night we sought out the Lights
off an empty highway, not a soul but us four
on some version of the No Tour
among others brought here before and after
by a gift, dropped into a bracket of words
listening to the cosmic noises in the night
And on the horizon we saw the Lights, hovering
eerily for a moment, chills at being chosen, growing
brighter then disappearing, reappearing, following
the curves, we realized, of the distant road
We waited longer in the darkness
There must have been stars but I can’t remember any
Then lights on the highway slowly neared us
on the divide, closer, closer, the lights
of the Luciferum pulled round
blinding us, a patrolman stepped out
asked us what we were doing here
in the middle of nowhere, alone
on the highway in the middle of the night,
he searched our car, paced to and fro,
scanning our faces with a bitty flashlight,
dispatcher’s voice abruptly beckoned
over the radio, saving us for a moment,
the patrolman spoke a few words in a low voice
then walked back toward us with a last question,
“You all’re Americans aren’t you?”
And we lied and said “Yes”
And he nodded and turned, told us
to keep out of trouble before
hitting the leather, and drove off
While in my mind I could feel
the Gunslinger’s stare, the grave
cold look he cast at me
from the saloon seat next to me
when he tried to warn me: “This
is a desert full of fucking
agents who want to fuck you.”


From Hey, Marfa. Paintings and drawings by Rackstraw Downes. Used with the permission of the publisher, Graywolf Press. Copyright © 2018 by Jeffrey Yang.

Jeffrey Yang
Jeffrey Yang
Jeffrey Yang is the author of four poetry collections, including Hey, Marfa, winner of the Southwest Book Award, and An Aquarium, winner of the PEN/Joyce Osterweil Award. He is the translator of Liu Xiaobo’s June Fourth Elegies.

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