Out of Gas

John McKernan

I need to walk over to The Speedway

Buy a red plastic five gallon container

And a gallon of regular 87 Octane

Carry it back to my car

This morning I watched a cripple with a piece of
wood ripped from a picket fence walk five miles

I can walk two blocks

Maybe someone will laugh without laughing

I’ve seen people throw a cigarette out of a car or a
truck window so it looked like a meteor shower
glowing above an asphalt sidewalk

The explosion on a sheet of gasoline will wake
most people from their dreams

In New Orleans a man set another man
on fire with the gasoline he was carrying
back to his car which ran out of gas

A new meaning for the word Empty

I used to get drunk back in Nebraska snow
I wouldn’t be able to remember a thing for two days

Sometimes today I will hold a chunk of ice in a
certain way for a long time with three fingers
and it’s like my hand felt on fire back then

This is not a new version of Marcel Proust

The sunset tonight is an intensely mute propane
orange but at least it is not New Orleans or Detroit


John McKernanJohn McKernan grew up in Omaha, Nebraska.  He is now a retired comma herder / Phonics Coach after teaching 41 years at Marshall University. He lives – mostly – in West Virginia where he edits ABZ Press. His most recent book is a selected poems Resurrection of the Dust. He has published poems in The Atlantic Monthly, The Paris Review, The New Yorker, Virginia Quarterly Review, The Journal, Antioch Review, Guernica, Field and many other magazines.