Photo: University of College /

I hadn’t been there since I was a teenager.
My father got free tickets

from a DuPont salesman at the plant
& we waited to hear Jeff Gordon

talk about industrial paint before the race.
Now, I’m waiting for something else—

the quick shot to the arm. My wife & I made
the mistake of getting on the waitlist

at different times, so we’ve got to make
four trips to the speedway.

We come the back way, off 156,
but it doesn’t really matter how

you get into Texas Motor Speedway
for the vaccination clinic,

because you’ll be there a long time.
Occasionally, we inch forward,

but the tents are still so far away.
It’s strange to see a thing

used so differently. Parking lots
where I once bought a Kevin Harvick hat

now a place I wait for what,
I hope, is a step toward

returning to a normal world.
Of course, what’s normal now—

won’t this place, won’t every place,
be forever altered. 

Justin Carter is the author of Brazos (Belle Point Press, 2024). His poems have appeared in Bat City Review, DIAGRAM, Sonora Review, and other spaces. Originally from the Texas Gulf Coast, Justin currently lives in Iowa and works as a sports writer and editor.