Two Poems

Brett Busang

Driving on the Highway
Photo Credit: Walt Stoneburner

Having Gone Places, We Came Back to the Car

We were not brothers until, late one night,
Dribbling knee and ankle from a parked car,
We talked about our father whose philanderings
We didn’t know whether to admire with caution,
Or to dismiss with a fanatic summons he would not hear
And could never answer.

He left when we were boys, just boys
Whose second sense for drama was well-tuned enough
To know that, this time, when the door was shut,
Not to muffle its sound, but to complete it,
He was gone for good: a now-wayward fellow—
With our mother in the bedroom wondering,

Not where all the time had gone, but why she’d given
So much of it to him. She called us in, one at a time,
To orient us: she, a teacher, and we in the unfamiliar territory
Of a future life. “We’ll get through this,” she said,
Looking less a survivor than she knew.
And now: we were talking about the gaps and ridges,

The geographical seizures that catapult waifs and strays—
From Memphis to Kansas City in our case. Long drives,
Necessary pit-stops, heat and light coming into the car,
Not to warm or illuminate, but to keep us angry at one another.
We talked about all that, got it straight,
Left it in our palms like so much loose change,

And drove, as if we were going to a better place
With no set boundaries and milder claims on our psyches:
A place we’d been looking for all that time
With our faces pulled away from the sun and blinking
Like nomads who are obliged to break camp early enough
To suck the heat out of the waves and hear our voices

Sounding, as they do for the first time, like those of strangers.


Hit in the Face

I don’t remember hitting him for the first time,
Whether it hurt me more or him, what started it—
Or whether it was the flight of a willful moment.
I don’t remember the dawning sense

Of injury as it raddles a ready face,
Or the puckered look that precedes a good cry.
I don’t remember him flailing out at me,
Or my quick-step away from his fury.

Nor do I remember the calm that slips into a battle,
Rendering it down into the cheap choreography
The mind captures best and plays much too often.
What I remember is not the hot feeling in my hand

Nor the sense of getting away with something,
But of having murdered, in miniature,
Something that was alive, but would,
From then on, be small and guarded.


(Brett likes) people who listen, places from which soccer is notably absent, books without chase scenes (unless people are running), no particular color, any public space that is chewing-gum free, a good day followed by a lousy one, most organisms that are not named Josh or Hayden, peace of mind that doesn’t come at the expense of thinking, food he can eat with his fingers, drivers who signal, no drivers at all. Email: bbusang[at]

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