Field Guide to the Proper Identification of Roadside Debris

Cynthia Marie Hoffman


Shoe with the ghost of a foot pressed inside. Straw with a tooth wedged. The raccoon’s stare. A pacifier. Fog. Garbage bags jutting with elbows. A leaf hightailing it across in the breeze. Battered suitcases zippered shut with kidnapped children. The blinding sun. Thump under the wheel. That sound you take home with you at night like the deadly thud of a bird dropping its prey on the roof. The key to identification lies in the unseen. The shattered bone. It doesn’t mean you’re not a gentle person. The leaf that is a bullfrog. The snake that is a hoodie string. Flattened gumballs dot the way to your destination. Red, yellow, green. This bridge you must cross. And the snarled ball of rags rolling down the road, nothing at its heart but wind.


Cynthia Marie Hoffman is the author of Call Me When You Want to Talk about the Tombstones, Paper Doll Fetus, and Sightseer. Her poems have appeared in jubilat, Fence, Blackbird, diode, The Los Angeles Review, and elsewhere.