Betsy Mars is a prize-winning poet, occasional publisher, nascent photographer, and cat wrangler. She works as a substitute teacher and an assistant editor at Gyroscope Review. Recent poetry publications include ONE ART, Anti-Heroin Chic, and The NewVerse News. Her photos have been featured in RATTLE’s Ekphrastic Challenge, Praxis, Redheaded Stepchild, and Spank the Carp, among others. Her most recent book is In the Muddle of the Night co-authored with Alan Walowitz.
The gas station was an island in the afterschool stream
from blacktop to bikini shop across the boulevard.
I took a deep breath, sniffed —
a whiff of testosterone
in the flow of the carbon monoxide mix:
my brother’s friend Rick, a gas jockey
(who later renamed himself Cheshire,
became a DJ on some Mountain Time station).
Rock-idol thin, he tolerated me.
Now there’s only an exoskeleton,
chitin, what passes for skin.
Back then we went to the filling station
to get our fix. We were sold a tiger for our tank.
Strung out on highways they formed an archipelago
we hopped. Sometimes stopped at a Mobil station
with its red Pegasus. Sometimes Sinclair
with its green Brontosaurus,
which gave way to Apatosaurus,
and back again
as scientists argue and rename,
compare structures, dig up evidence,
divide and conquer genera
and I maintain my nostalgia
for the gentle Brontosaurus, distinctly
extinct, who grins from the tree limbs,
observes the sleight of hand
in God’s endless shell game.