“THERE’S NO THROUGH TRAIL” —HAN-SHAN, TRANSLATED BY GARY SNYDER
/ Two Poems

Two Poems

by Rob Vance

(Un)Finished

The fertilizer was a formula from Purdue, the red
truck from Dearborn, the road unborn was a bear
path running across Iron Mountains, Virginia.

That day, the local newspaper recorded the State
Fair winners and the state of affairs in the no-
longer White House.  No explosions but orange

and black pylons lay on the highway, the old way
to town under improvement.  A detour wound
past the deserted Dairy Queen that replaced the

Hogge family shop with ten elastic bins filled up
with plastic cups lingering like stern cows returned
for milking.  That hour, there was no stopping

the red truck with its oil-sheen wheels, sleepless
lights, roiling load.  Deliveries needed in Tennessee 
for transfer by noon.  Little room in the switchback,  

a thin threshold to a view above an uncut tree line.  
The truck rumbled through that mountain minute — 
ice shelves calved in the Arctic, scorched concrete fell 

into the Black Sea, a biker tumbling helmet first 
onto surviving asphalt — crush and run backfill,
in down-reaching foundations of what is done.

In the Waters of Yellow House Beach

a empty soda bottle slapped my face, a shock
to my fogged goggled salty world, I stopped,  

watched as waves and bottle genuflected 
a textbook breaststroke with all the humility

of a medaled Olympian.  What reason 
had I to chase this striking form—foreign,

its strengths never melting in the foam
of rising winds.  Then resting on domes

of dunes listening to twisting white caps
hiss, its plastic heart could never lapse  

in the final race.  The bottle knew censure
all too well.  With clear curves smirking

in the sand, it will lay with me unblurred.
The waves’ roars never mistook for cheering.

Rob Vance

About Rob Vance

Rob Vance is a former Ironman triathlete who gave up his day job to travel and race for nearly a decade. Now he is an IT professional and continues his journey as an athlete by writing and reminiscing with an occasional weekend race thrown in for good measure. His poetry has been featured in: Chiron Review, Foothills, Hawai’i Pacific Review, Kakalak, and other esteemed journals. He tweets @RobVance_RVA

Cold Mountain Review is published once a year in the Department of English at Appalachian State University. Support from Appalachian’s Office of Academic Affairs and College of Arts and Sciences enables CMR’s learning and publications program. The views and opinions expressed in CMR do not necessarily reflect those of university trustees, administration, faculty, students, or staff.