When I think of their histories,
each one bright as a mint-perfect nickel,

the image I get is pure Tarkovsky:
a convoy gliding through ill-lit tunnels
under some foreign capital.

I’m reminded of the work
of an American photographer whose name
I can no longer place, black & white

neutron-bombed streets, Akrons of streetlamps
and side view mirrors, naked on-ramps
under greywhite skies, but always
a sense of destination—

I hear they travel in identical black Escalades,
secreted each third of July
from military installations disguised as office parks
to the country’s waiting Wal-Marts

and whisked into specially built chambers
outfitted with a psychic version of the Fresnel lens
for their yearly day of service
as national tuning forks.

That famous face they share
once homebound again, shrinks
in the orange tunnel light
with the same drowned look
worn by their nearly identical drivers.

It’s easy to admit it’s a little sad.
Everything they know they learn from television.
They only see the sun through tinted glass.

To believe in them is folly.
To underestimate them is cliché.
To dream of their rescue is slightly sweet

in the way of people who quit
eating meat for a few weeks
when they get to feeling sorry
about killing animals.

The Abraham Lincoln Clones

Ian Demsky