Knights of the road, my father called them.
Riding out of the darkness on their muscular mounts,
Noble studs with magical names like
Western Star and White and Mack.
Shiny with virtue and strong with valor, champions they were,
Protectors of all who rode the darkness at their side.
I felt safe traveling with them there, and charmed
When they flashed a bright hello as we passed.
In brightly lit oases gleaming in the night,
Shouting “Welcome!” with words like “Eat” and “Good Food” and “Showers.”
I loved seeing them, my heroes seated at round formica tables.
They treated me like a princess or the missed daughter at home.
They bought me candy and begged my nine-year-old’s favor
Before riding back into battle.
Where have all my knights gone?
Vanquished? Replaced by barbarians,
Rampaging on rude stallions with boring names like
GMC and Autocar and Peterbilt?
Tarnished by nicotine and stained by tattoos,
Chivalry replaced by crudeness, fighting only sleep
While challenging the mile, these marauders protect no one
And threaten all who dare ride the darkness at their side.
I avoid them and their oases now,
And each time one splashes a muddy sneer as he passes,
I remember my knights of the round tables,
Who flashed a bright hello, and bought me candy, and
Took my nine-year-old’s heart with them as they rode back into battle.