Here we are again, gathered in a paragraph next to a black and white photograph of a combination check-cashing service and liquor store in the testier blocks of the beach area, writing words to a digital page only for the sake of doing something sublimely inane when inspiration is in brief supply and a sentence is only as powerful as the fingers that rattled off the nonsense. Gathered together for no good purpose, but who is the commander who informs us what the good purpose is? Here we are again in the same room at the same desk with the same plastic coffee can filled halfway with bad pennies no one has loved. In the days of my youth, we used to drive from Michigan to Martinsville, Virginia to visit our southern cousins on my mom’s side of the family. In the recollection, I remember a house in a wooded area that was mountainous to an extent, and behind my grandmother’s abode was a canyon and railroad tracks that were still active on the transportation schedules. I remember seeing boxcars and passenger cars racing past at the bottom of the ravine, a blur partially obscured by thick bramble, bushes, tree branches in full leafy glory. Cut to a drive back home to a Detroit suburb, a straight, flat highway that is wide, occasionally curving around bends and ducking under bridges, a flat stretch without end under a steel grey sky and clouds the color of white cotton that soaked up a streak of black coffee. The radio was blaring news of the war and the newspaper strike between pitchmen screaming about smashing prices and the opening bars of a Doors song before Mom turned off the radio and Dad began to sing “I Love Paris” as he tapped a beat on the steering wheel and a big grin and an interstellar glint came to his eye. The stained clouds gave the cars their burden, a hard rain and punishing wind blew cascades of water across the road that looked like small California waves. My brother and sister next to me in the back seat while I claimed my spot by the rear window. Farmhouses, abandoned tractors hurried by, factories hid behind thick groves of pine trees. Mom lit another cigarette. My sister coughed and my brother farted, a wild, rasping, snorting sound. “I love Paris in the evening…when it’s raining…” my father sang. My mother’s face was obscured by grey smoke, but she began to sing along with him. Their harmony was grating and monotonous and the highway was straight and the sky was large and filled with clouds and fleeting streaks of lightning in the distance terrorizing farm animals or the counterman at a desolate gas station and snack bar just off the expressway exit.