* Tara Betts *

Trips on Interstellar Highways

“If we ever get star travel, we’d probably see a lot of traffic jams.” – William Borucki

The vehicles clutter the endless night.
Star-dented and fire-proof. If we’re lucky,
the air inside stays fresh since human
stink can be unbearable and cigarette
butts can’t be tossed out windows, so
there’s litter. Will there be a convenient
laser in the trash receptacle that burns
and shoots the ashes of candy wrappers
into space? Then silt might coat galaxies
like smog in Los Angeles. Imagine, sound
systems in interstellar cars. Music loud
enough to cause hearing damage in one
trip because someone would hope people
in other’s cars would hear it, and maybe
the kids in flying beaters would see shiny
better, newer pass by, say to one another
That’s my cruiser and No, that’s MY cruiser.
There would have to be rest stops stocked
with oxygen, snacks to refill containers,
and toilets. Who would live there to keep
them running? The ka-lunks of motorized
travel among stars would create space rage
where people could never get out of their
cars with bats, but someone’s vehicle would
get scratched, and all the ugly things people
do in their car, like picking their noses,
popping pimples, screaming at children,
and smelling themselves would still be
visible through the windows, but no one
would care because they wonder how
in the hell to keep their eyes on the road.

Tara Betts is the author of Break the Habit and Arc & Hue. Her chapbooks include the upcoming Never Been Lois Lane, 7 x 7: kwansabas, and THE GREATEST!: An Homage to Muhammad Ali. Her writing has appeared in POETRY, Essence, HBO's "Def Poetry Jam" and other journals and anthologies. She teaches at University of Illinois-Chicago.

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