documenting the demise of the great american empire from the road (3)

2 Mar

photo: Jason Chapman

albuquerque in march is something left of dreary
we came out of a nasty storm in tucumcari with a half tank of gas
and three moon pies still bouncing around on the back seat from the winds
we were out of cigarettes money verve and stories
just before we hit the big city
somewhere in tijeras we stopped at a truckers’ diner
and spent our last three dollars
valeriu had toast with butter
and i asked for a small cup of chicken soup
flo served it full of skin and fat and mushy potatoes
just like i used to have it in my grandmother’s village in blagesti
the men who drove livestock for a living were hard and quiet
and made of leather and cheap cigarettes
they slurped
we slurped
they looked up
we didn’t
the america that we were slicing in a german machine that winter
was not the dream that was marketed all over the world
this country was poor
it was running out of time and money
it was serving fatty chicken soup and hoping you were on your way fast
because it didn’t have any work for you here
where ya going flo said and slapped down the greasy check
los angeles valeriu said and then hey you got a spare ciggy
my last one flo said and then los angeles whaddya know
a couple of big shots passing through good luck boys
and we could tell she was glad we weren’t staying
everybody that came to albuquerque was looking for a job
jesus fuck valeriu said as we were winding around the city on the freeway
in low clouds and ice pellets and winds looking to blow us down the mountain
this godforsaken town reminds me of ploesti
before or after the war i said
both times
you know who’s from here
that kid who plays doogie howser on tv
that’s fascinating it’s still a shit town
we left the city behind heading for the border with arizona
where we were looking to cross into the petrified forest and camp
we sped over the hydrological divide
that separates the watersheds draining into the pacific
from the river systems flowing out to the atlantic
it’s hard to understand time zones valeriu said
how in hell can you just gain an hour just like that
because that sign says so how in hell is that possible
delineated borders as well i said
and at eighty-five miles per hour
with gallup in the crosshairs
and nearly running on fumes
it was hard to understand just about everything
but poverty


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