Iowa Writes

JEREMY B. JONES
El Choque


It isn't obvious what
what happened,
likely speed and of course,
carelessness—the motorcycle
resting on its side, blue and quick.
The city doesn't stop, only one lane funnels
past, and this is an annoyance to taxistas and important
traffic.  Some still manage to live
the myth of slow Latin
time and wade inches from the yellow
line, forming a soft square around the body—
a coffin of humanity.  The body is draped,
a fresh blanket not stopping
at the chin, but running over the head.
A couple watches
it all, late twenties, four years
deep in marriage, three minutes
deep into ice cream cones: vanilla,
a McDonald invasion, with the lines of soft—
serve, and the brightness of artificial white.
The two stare without word, without emotion,
without time—the man with a hand in his pocket
and his other manning the ice cream.

It isn't obvious what
what happened,
likely speed and of course,
carelessness—the motorcycle
resting on its side, blue and quick.
The city doesn't stop, only one lane funnels
past, and this is an annoyance to taxistas and important
traffic.  Some still manage to live
the myth of slow Latin
time and wade inches from the yellow
line, forming a soft square around the body—
a coffin of humanity.  The body is draped,
a fresh blanket not stopping
at the chin, but running over the head.
A couple watches
it all, late twenties, four years
deep in marriage, three minutes
deep into ice cream cones: vanilla,
a McDonald invasion, with the lines of soft—
serve, and the brightness of artificial white.
The two stare without word, without emotion,
without time—the man with a hand in his pocket
and his other manning the ice cream.


The woman, the safer, double-fists
the cone, her gaze set upon the white
sheet covering, burying the rider.  The man
looks to his ice cream, trying to avoid
dripping in the Central American
heat and sets his mouth to the task—
licking, slurping
around the cone, saving
any falling cream from the pavement.
He's fixed straight ahead, still
stooping over his cone, and imagines
the white sheet as his
ice cream&dmash;the same vanilla and the same white
lines—he licks furiously
around the cone, hoping to keep the sheet
from melting to the pavement.  He imagines
eating it all, the cold cream of death
sliding quickly down his throat, escaping
the midday sun, erupting into his stomach.
The woman has not shifted, she watches the scene,
boxed in yellow, like a telenovela—she sees nothing
of the man's frenzied eating.  He moves his lips quickly
and completely around the cone, not shifting
his view from the sheet—the body—convicted
to save every last drop.  Her gaze is thick,
hypnotic. Death like an image, blurry, weightless, escapes
her—she stares only at colors, shapes—the policía
writing it all on pads like a script.  She holds it
like gossip until the rider is finally lifted,
sheet and all—rolled
into the ambulancia—the man's
delusion broken, the woman's
television blackened. They turn in silence, empty
cones in hands, and stroll up the sidewalk,
away from a falling
sun.

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About Iowa Writes

Since 2006, Iowa Writes has featured the work of Iowa-identified writers (whether they have Iowa roots or live here now) and work published by Iowa journals and publishers on The Daily Palette. Iowa Writes features poetry, fiction, or nonfiction twice a week on the Palette.

In November of 2008, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) designated Iowa City, Iowa, the world's third City of Literature, making the community part of the UNESCO Creative Cities Network.

Iowa City has joined Edinburgh, Scotland and Melbourne, Australia as UNESCO Cities of Literature.

Find out more about submitting by contacting iowa-writes@uiowa.edu


JEREMY B. JONES

Jeremy received an MFA in nonfiction writing at The University of Iowa in May 2009. He now teaches writing at Charleston Southern University. Before coming to Iowa in 2006, he lived in Central America, the setting of the poem.

Jeremy B. Jones's website

This page was first displayed
on December 07, 2009

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