Louisville by Atar Hadari


(N.B. locally pronounced, rhymes with Blueville)


Outside of Louisville going fifty, maybe seventy an hour

I saw these red lights on the tail light-

I don’t got no idea what car it was.

Been drivin’ eighty, maybe fifty miles per hour

since sun crossed the brush-line, and it’s ’bout to go back


I see these red lights afore, I swear I see ’em lookin’-

it’s twilight time, trees cast flash light

when the sun blinks behind ’em, like siren in my mirror.

But ahead these lights is lookin’ mighty familiar

to a red dragon I used to know

looked me in the eye from a picture book my grammaw

left open at night in the kitchen when I was tryin to get some


walkin’ across the lino floor streaked white from all her


up at dawn and down at dusk and noisy till the day broke

even in her sleep that woman talked- a whiny buzzsaw-

these lights outside Louisville glowin’ an’ I look again in

his     eyes,

an’ the more I look in his eyes, more mine turn to filled


round small balls of cooling lead from a fire, warm but not


like bath water, kinda sweet an’ I don’t know but if I rest a


only a minute

I can open them again

and I’ll live to do more drivin’.

Lookin’ in these eyes outside Louisville

the dragon looks me inside me

shakes the world and all the sunset trees

burn the road wide open-

hell like a woman’s open mouth smiling up out at me

and behind her dragon’s tail snapping up and down

like an impatient li’l puppy

wanting to eat the sparrow’s fallen down blue egg-

I pull my eyes wide and stare

like there’s no tomorrow only a hell in my way

and a tongue that’s made to lick my heart. I eat the road

like the road was born of woman-I eat the road like a hand

that’s about to pet my neck and call me honey.

Killed the dragon dead just outside Louisville

going fifty, maybe eighty more- an hour-

he said- “don’t let me see you crawlin’

‘cross my tongue at sunset” I said

“I’ll see you, honey.”

Atar Hadari trained as an actor then won a scholarship to study poetry and playwrighting with Derek Walcott at Boston University. His SONGS FROM BIALIK: SELECTED POEMS of H. N. BIALIK” (Syracuse University Press) was a finalist for the American Literary Translators’ Association Award and his debut collection, REMBRANDT’S BIBLE, was published by Indigo Dreams in 2013. LIVES OF THE DEAD: POEMS of HANOCH LEVIN” was recently awarded a Pen Translates 2016 grant and is forthcoming from Arc Publications in 2017. He contributes a monthly verse bible translation column to MOSAIC magazine.