Detours Poem by Ralph Monday


Rounding the curve, halted by the SUV’s
emergency blinkers winking like some
Dis tower, I fell obediently in line as a
first grader in the cafeteria.

Head on collision, the officer said,
before directing me to the detour
ahead. Passing the crumpled car,
front shoved in like a monkey playing
accordion, I noticed the blanket covered
form loaded like a cord of wood
into an ambulance.

This one on a final detour from Sunday
morning church. But aren’t we all on
deviations, diversions?

Through the rain, the mist, the mountain
road, around one bend & an Amish
horse & buggy clattered on asphalt.
What detours awaited that black capsule?

Who could know. Detours.
Bypasses in time like a train switching

If I had detoured from the first love,
where would the train have taken me?
Not that moment, so not this minute.
Daughters instead of sons.
Dogs instead of cats.


What about your sidetrack?
you would have married
another & never went with
your wife to find her brother
three weeks dead sprawled in the
doorway halfway between the
bathroom & bedroom. You never
forgot the smell.

Or your sister who lost her rosary &
became a whore not a nun &
never met the suicide she would
have saved.


Like the Amish above who swerved
away from the 21st century, zigged instead
of zagged, found themselves in a 19th
century wormhole so that I would spy
them on this Sunday detour on a road with
many curves.

Ralph Monday is Professor of English at RSCC in Harriman, TN. Hundreds of poems published. Books: All American Girl and Other Poems, 2014. Empty Houses and American Renditions, 2015. Narcissus the Sorcerer, 2015. Bergman’s Island & Other Poems, 2021, The Book of Appalachia 2023, and a humanities text, 2018. Member Lincoln Memorial University Literary Hall of Fame. Twitter @RalphMonday Poets&Writers

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