Poetry by Dani Putney
Midday, I-40, about 80 miles east
of Amarillo. Pink asphalt, cracked.
A ditch of half-dead grass. My Kia,
straddling humanity and nature.
His SUV, all red-blue lights
behind me. Better slow down,
passing drivers must think.
He approaches my window.
Come sit in my vehicle while I issue
you a warning, he says. I get out
without thinking. I’m walking. No,
this can’t be right, my mind
catches up. I don’t feel comfortable
getting in your car, I blurt out.
You’re not the only one to be
apprehensive, he replies. He points
at a cheap patch on his upper arm:
Highway Patrol. His blond hair,
thinning. His eyes, a blizzard.
Why am I walking toward his
passenger-side door? HP logo,
weathered. Black paint, chipped.
An echo: This can’t be right.
Drivers passing by: Must be serious.
I clutch the door’s handle
with a sweaty palm. I know myself.
I’m afraid of what I want.
His window, rolled down. I see him
across a tundra of upholstery.
Top button, undone, chest hair
creeping out of his shirt. I think of
my dad. I get in. My name is Dean,
he tells me. The scene, set.
Dani Putney is a queer, non-binary, mixed-race Filipinx, & neurodivergent writer originally from Sacramento, California. Their debut full-length poetry collection is Salamat sa Intersectionality (Okay Donkey Press, May 2021). You can find Dani’s poetry in Camas, Figure 1, The Fourth River, LandLocked, & Tule Review, among other publications. Presently a PhD student at Oklahoma State University, they permanently reside in the middle of the Nevada desert.