“I am not convinced that virtue lies between two extremes,
But that’s what I’m considering as I wax my board.”
–Frank Gaspar, “September Tropical”
After “Argument” by Corrinne Clegg Hales
Some afternoon on the forty-one in Fresno,
I stare into the winter sky and wonder why seagulls come.
They remind me of tour buses, how they are lost
In the freeway’s clogged arteries
Among the obese Excursions and Escalades—
Each carrying a stiff suit in the driver’s seat—
All in a race to the same red lights.
Yet I don’t question lingering ravens
Perched on power lines;
Menacing lamented commuters,
The birds return calls from the cacophony
Of cars’ horns with their squawks
While beads of sweat stress drivers’ eyes.
Motorists curse the stuttered motion
Before—like a wedge—the flow of cars is driven to a stop,
And glowing tail lights alert those not paying attention
To the road. I know that smell is coming:
The burned-bean scent of black rubber
Strikes my nose, so I open my visor
And split lanes with a Ducati between still traffic.
Then I consider Frank Gaspar, how he reconciles
Aristotle, virtue, and means between extremes,
When white and black dots of birds collect:
Little yin-yangs of the lost and lingering
Circle above the overpass
While I proceed on frozen freeways.
Drivers—fixed—yield to me with dirty looks
As I squeeze between their SUVs.