This was written for two Read Write Poem Prompts this week – Read Write Word # 16 and Read Write Prompt # 74: Hyperlink Your Poetry. I used some of the words in the first prompt and added hyperlinks to some pictures, Wikipedia entries, and other kinds of content for selected words (hence why this is also for the second prompt). Please, look at the links — and feel free to comment and let me know how well (or not) this worked. And as always, enjoy.


I wonder what this land was before
we carved asphalt lines into Mother Earth’s
face. If I tilt my head and look outside
my window to the green beside
this roadway, I can still see the land


down. I can see

men, jumping from tops
of hills and winding themselves around
trees, slithering

through this old forest with breath
caught in stasis to chase this
evening’s meal
– a buck standing
unawares of red men ready to
break apart his flesh and inject his
life into their veins
. Men,

absorbing strength caught inside
antlers, carried in the arms of blood
rivers emptying their mouths
into venison flesh. Men

and women sitting and speaking
stories into the air around
sublime, scorching fires whose


I can still smell – wretched charcoal
perfume released into twilight,
pressed from Death’s heartbeat
and distilled into smoke. And from this,
the cycle always continued –
Death cleansing

the path for Life’s footsteps
to fall upon uncluttered stones, willful
and silent, to march past death drives
and Freudian thought before such notions
were birthed onto paper. Those
footprints are trapped in the hillsides,

and I can see them. Beneath the mosaic of
leaf, earth, and road, I can hear
them. Drowned by filthy sediment and
hovering underneath windows of
steel and glass, I can smell them. And
I can still hear the three sisters dancing

their dance of yellow, pale, and green, a
plant DNA, concentric circle mound, feed
the children of another season dance
which still echoes underneath solid
grey skin, pebbled-and-tarred
lines tattooed upon our mother’s face
so that we may travel her surfaces
faster – but

where are we really going? Twenty-first
century change jangles in our ears,
drives us to drive everyday to survive. We
pace asphalt, walk concrete, stomp
stones laid to recall centuries before our
charcoal and steel dawn, and I must
wonder –

when all of this buckles and breaks, will
our half-tone ghosts be seen walking
midnights between trees inside forests
resurrected from the days of Mingo
and Algonquin song – or will we

leave no trace, our steps erased by our
dragging unseen green umbilical chords
behind us, severed from our Mother by
our black asphalt blades?

Written 5/12/09 and 5/13/09
© 2009 Nicole Nicholson. All Rights Reserved.

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About ravenswingpoetry

I am a 38 year old writer from Columbus, OH and the creator of Raven's Wing Poetry. I am a poet, seeker, fellow traveler, and autistic.
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6 Responses to Asphalt

  1. “Death cleansing the path for Life’s footsteps…”

    Such brilliant phrasing, such evocative imagery. Thank you for this gift of words.

  2. wayne says:

    I had to read this again…even better second time around

  3. Andy Sewina says:

    I found the poem quite difficult to read, but I think you made good use of the links and the one about the Mingo people, I found very interesting.

  4. Annamari says:

    Great connection between images and words. “pace asphalt, walk concrete, stomp stones” ….

  5. James says:

    This is a really amazing piece. So vivid. I love the hyperlinks and the way your site pulls up the links when you mouse over rather than having to click away.

  6. Pingback: The Egyptian « Raven’s Wing Poetry

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