“TRAFFIC”

It usually happens heading into a city.
Everyone wants in at the same time.

Artists, for centuries, have lined up—
laying on the horn, trying to be heard
over the revving of one another's engines.

Occasionally, in traffic—a car will swing out
onto the shoulder, zipping to the exit.

Artists, for centuries, have followed one another;
One innovator after the next;
Clamoring to claim credit.

One car, ahead in the pack, notices in its rearview—
the car approaching on the shoulder.
Foresight and hindsight well in hand, this car
swings out— cutting off the long line coming.

Soon, the gravely shoulder and the exit
are congested, crowded— and a tiny car notices
the express lanes are clear for travel again.

Artists, for centuries, have swerved in and out
from tradition. Driving away—
and steering back in.

Soon, the shoulder is bare. And there is traffic
on the blacktop again— until another car
weaves back over— and the others fall in line.

Artists, for centuries, have flocked toward the big cities.
And it goes on like this. Eventually, after a long enough wait—
everyone gets in. But now, it’s a question of where to park?
And by the time you get where you’re going,
you’ll be lucky if your name is still on the list.
And even if it is, the kitchen is closed.
But the bartender is friendly and will pour you a drink
if you tell him your story.

This is why artists, for centuries, have starved standing in lines;
Waiting their turn and dying to be famous.
Car wrecks on the expressway
typically get some headlines
and plenty of rubbernecks, lined up,
waiting in the traffic of their own design.

narrative poem written on 04-10-2011 by: on mattkane.com
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