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Welder's Smoke

When the light-stunned doe
went stupid, I couldn’t fire,
a furtive scruple that meant nothing
to the blue light that whooped on
behind us, us with two pistols
sliding across the seat. Bobby
slapped the lights o! and gunned it,
slamming into the dark. Prey now,
we slewed through switchback
rollercoaster curves and powered down
dust wallows the law didn’t know
until, breathless among scraped pine,
sassafras, and kudzu, we watched
blue lights split the dark and the dark
heal three times as the spit in our whispers
dried to welder’s smoke—if we were busted,
the acrid taste of our futures.
Around dry mouths, we rolled
the metallic residue of iron, copper,
and zinc fumes, struggling to love it.
The blue lights departed. On moonlit kudzu
we spat, but not bitterly,
the toxic oxides of a harder world,
thinking, once spared the effort,
I could have loved that life.