Neon lights in the mountains: A poem

Illustration of the state silhouettes of California and Arizona surrounded by imagery associated with interpretations of "American Aesthetics".
Kelsey Choe/Staff

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There you are: scuttling along the marble floors of Excellence

your feet glowing and sizzling on permanent stones 

your heads tilt together, demonstrations of reverence 

and Prayer


but everyone hides loneliness with entrepreneurialism,

which makes you realize: the No. 1 show in 

The United States, endorsed and enjoyed by Christians,

permits polygamy in the pursuit of true love


And you are reminded of this once again 

when you leave the world 

where everything is as it should be:

marble floors; proportion; logic and symmetry 


you step into a 24-hour shell of plexiglass, 

permeated with cigarette smoke, 

where contradictions are all you see:

forests and mountain peaks; bombast and idolatry


beyond the marble and glassy lakes,

climb aboard the smokey magic carpet of this America 

the gnarled fibers engorged with Everything 

including spilled Lagunitas IPA


Escaping from the tobacco-haze, a man appears,

introducing himself as The Manager 

composed, you observe, of pixels and noises 

perfectly calibrated to capture your affection 


reaching over to you, and whispering something

coy and lean, he chuckles:

“We have neon lights in the mountains and 

dueling pianos between trout streams.” 


You stumble outside into the concrete-fluorescent snow 

from the edge of the bushes, 

the border of this civilization, 

a grinning bobcat emerges.


Her eyes reflect her timelessness,

and you are stricken with this realization: 

We have neon lights in the mountains 

and dueling pianos between; trout; streams.”

Contact Jem Ruf at [email protected].