long distance to go,
nothing planned for
the far end of the road –
cheap motel, good hotel,
sleep in the back seat.
Alone, of course. Clouds
clogging hills ahead,
and the sun behind at dawn
after getting up and coffee
and good potatoes, orange
grease brown edges and
soaked in a little yolk. Then
more speedy lines dotting off
below the chassis as distance
rolls up in the meter, not caring much
about the fuel until necessary,
grab smokes and attitude from
backcountry station, onward,
Jesus talk on the radio reminder
of the crap I leave behind, the city,
the debates, the endless stare of
gladiator chumps and analysts,
glaring others and family, tears
upon hearing the engine roar up
into rejection, glory glory
on the manifold and the exhaust
trailing behind to say kiss me,
I’m not here, catch me
gone, stop. Again
the confusion of what sleep
ought to be. Again the clouds
and sunshine disgust, wanting to
enter the storm and test myself
a man. This is a poisoned land
and I’m ready to gorge myself
on the soil before I really punch it
and roll stock and barrel
into the ragged target
of the next day, the next day,
The one where you are speaking to one person you’ve never met in a dark room.
The one recited from behind a white screen. You’re backlit in Yankee Stadium on a small stage. There’s no microphone, no public address system; the stadium is empty.
The one like the previous one except you have the greatest sound system in world history. The stadium is still empty.
The one where you ask the audience to harm you.
The one where you speak through a gag — a sleeve cut off a fresh corpse.
The one in which you speak English but are trying to imitate the sound of another tongue, the one your grandmother spoke. Not a translation; English words that sound like the words she used. (Can you hear her?)
The one in which you are completely fictional — you were never born, all the memory you’ve got is false, and your audience will be surprised to discover you’re not a beloved character from their favorite childhood book.
The one in which the pen suddenly leaps out of your hand and stakes a territorial claim like a bear.
The one in which the detective has not eaten for hours under the single white bulb, there is sweat, you are about to confess and it dawns upon you that lying or telling the truth doesn’t matter as long as you can’t smell your body emptying itself into this ill-fit suit, this outfit made for a coffin outing. You can’t tell where you are, but it’s a city you should have been born in. Your grandmother’s coming to throw your bail. (Can you hear her? She’s looking for you. Calling you. Asking for you by a name you never heard before, but it’s yours.)
The one where you are finally in a full stadium. There are lions.