Michael Broek


I met God in New Jersey, staffing
a tollbooth on the Garden State Parkway.
She was a diminutive female with
a squeaky voice and an '80s post-
Farah Fawcett, pre-Flock of Seagulls hairdo.
I knew who she was because
she told me that one mile down the road
there was a terrible crash:
this sleepy gambler had kissed a concrete pylon,
sheered off an entire half of his car.
Died instantly, thank God.

I keep a list, she said, of everyone who dies
between this toll and the next. Sometimes,
she added, I'm the last person they see.

And sure enough, the car was there,
peeled apart, flares popping on the shoulder,
ambulance drivers looking bored.

What was he thinking, I wondered, right
before the concrete met his car, and then,
my hand fumbling for change, I knew.
He thought, she gypped me, that tiny toll taker
gave me one buck short!

How many wrecks had she caused
with her hand out for the money, her lists,
that hair.

Location: Galloway, New Jersey
Occupation: Professor, Brookdale Community College
Email: hellm2@comcast.net
Publications: Cimarron Review, Sundog, Slipstream, Berkeley Poetry Review, Paterson Literary Review, Clackamas, Strata, Fourteen Hills, Potomac Review, Porcupine, etc.
Awards: New Jersey Arts Council Fellowship in Poetry

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