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On a two-lane road in back-country Georgia,
where summer lays siege with mist and cicadas,
rusting through window screens and car bodies,
squats an old motel in front of a deserted drive-in movie lot:
a low-slung fortress of unpainted cinder blocks,
roofed in corrugated tin wavy as a cheap perm.
The movie screen looms behind it,
a patchwork of empty spaces and panels suspended
on broken struts, the frame shaky but still upright.

The motel kept the sign from the Alamo Drive-In--
a faded painting of the Spanish mission,
with smoking cannons and muskets, dying men
arrested in mid-fall from the parapets.
After "Alamo," someone painted "-t-e-l";
the added letters run downhill
like a battle plan which ran out of room.
The movie marquee displays "By wk or mo,"
a cult classic exclusive to the Alamotel.

In back, rows of speaker poles
ride the bare dirt humps,
their disconnected wires sticking out.

On summer nights, the renters set up chairs
among the speakers to drink cold beer,
watch their children hide-and-seek, and eat
watermelon down to the rind. They stay late,
as if they are waiting for the movie to start,
as if, any minute, in black and white,
Judy Garland will sing rainbow promises,
Charlton Heston will part the Red Sea,
or Fred Astaire will tap-dance them down
his rhinestone-studded tuxedo road.

Keeping their children in earshot, they swap stories
of flea markets, overheated engines,
the last good season picking peaches.
In the twilight, the movie screen darkens,
pale, half-missing, but still the largest blank target
for high-speed potshots from the asphalt
or dark and humming, slow-motion dreams.
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Article Details
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Author:v; Ross, Aden
Publication:Atlanta Review
Article Type:Poem
Date:Sep 22, 2010
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