when life gives you ultimatums, make ultimatum-soup.

one day you woke up,
bleary-eyed and racked by flu,
and said, with passion, you wanted something instead of nothing.

that ambiguous gray had chosen a side
and today there was an ultimatum.

you had watched Elizabethtown -
and that scene, where she makes him a map,
and that song we sang, where "all exits look the same"
and that sickness, which shook your mind,
left your asking echoing,
where is that fence? what is that fence?

choose a side, you demanded
asserting for once
fueled by fever and infection
I am alive, and I want, oh how I want.

I knew that chorus
I knew the debt-collectors would call
and when they left pockets emptier,
"I won't call again"
and I'd be poorer, too.

We were still thousands of miles tired,
from passing and signs,
from attentiveness stretched beyond the norm.
We stumbled through 3 a.m. at closed gas stations,
there was one that only charged three cents of gas
before telling us to go elsewhere.

dead deer and your steady breathing -
I never looked back to see you sprawled
filling the backseat,
curled tight, but still too large to disappear in blankets
my eyes faced the road,
alone, me or the engine pulling you along with me.

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