Emily Gogolak

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Freeway Ends

Freeway Ends

Infrastructure, they’re talking about it a lot more

A billboard whose finer print I can’t read says FREEDOM and the next says EMPIRE (an insurance group) and the next says ESCAPE REALITY (an image of a boat). This road leads to Lake Superior, which might as well be an ocean. 35 takes you to the end of America, or the beginning, depending on whom you ask. But there’s an energy to the ends of things. Cars and trucks are driving very fast.

Land Noises

Land Noises

I’d stumbled upon the set of the Ronald Reagan biopic

The sky looked precisely like Oklahoma’s license plate, light blue with swirls of what I thought was a white cloud but is actually the outline of a scissor-tailed flycatcher. A lot of the ranch gates had cowboys on them—emblems of a lost frontier. (There’s a cowboy museum in Oklahoma City.) The interstate was built mostly in the 1960s and made backroads like 77 and the towns along it obsolete, and it’s in these towns where I saw the most Trump flags. One county was called Love. A welcome sign said THACKERVILLE AMERICA: WE BELIEVE IN OKLAHOMA. THACKERVILLE OKLAHOMA: WE BELIEVE IN AMERICA would have made more sense, but little did.

No Close Encounters of Any Kind

No Close Encounters of Any Kind

At a certain point in the pandemic, finding synonyms for empty feels beside the point

He tells me he’s driving a transport van instead of a truck because the Border Patrol is now sending pretty much everyone it apprehends right back to Mexico, as quickly as possible. “Expel” is the Trump Administration’s choice of verb. It has taken the pandemic as an opportunity to effectively seal off the border to asylum seekers; unprecedentedly, even unaccompanied children haven’t been spared. “Asylum is cancelled,” is how the agent interprets and articulates this. The policy is a violation of the Refugee Act of 1980.