A cart rolling down a wooden floor,
Squeaky wheels hitching at the knots.
Ordering food by number,
Classic rock on the speakers.
“American Woman, Stay Away from me-hee.”
Remembering red and black numbers
7:31 AM, 135 miles to go.
Nothing between but open air
And hills that crest and fall, occasionally
Busting through the treeline
Like a receding hairline.
Right now, there’s burner grease
And stories about children and old men
That float by in fragments as I sit alone,
A B115 amplifier and my Schecter bass
Await in my vehicle. A night after
Watching other people dance.
Up north this far I’m out of gravitational orbit,
Away form family, friends, and job.
A loner in a café brooding over a cup of coffee
While a biker and I discus how,
The more he knows women, the more he loves his Harley.
Plates clang in the back as an air conditioner hums;
Green walls and chalkboards, patrons having mimosas at 8AM,
I say always caffeine until at least happy hour.
It’s like this when I am in between,
Among honest strangers where we are all unfamiliar.
At some point, there was a change. Not one
That was noticed with an event and a date,
No treaty of Versailles,
But subtle, like the detachment of California.
As influence compounds it amalgamates my being
Into something unfamiliar; the same boy who listened
To “Can’t Find My Way Home” on wintery nights,
When the only thing to do was to walk back alone.
That was me, once.
But long ago, when I sat in a train station,
Speaking of the latest Destroyer album
With an expert level hipster, listening to the intercom
Call out destinations that were not my own.
The mechanic echo wrapping and bouncing around the spacious
Roundabout of food carts, restrooms, and benches.
The saddest times are when we are most ourselves,
Forced to deal with the worst of companions: yourself.
I don’t lack for love like then, in fact some ways the opposite.
Too much love is like eating too much cake.
Saccharine, sickening, nights in a bathroom.
Not unlike the syrup drowning eggs and wheat
As today will amount to something, but not yet.
“You forget to do your homework?”
The biker from New York State askes.
No, I used to have assignments,
Now just observations and plagiarisms
Of your words.
He loves the waitress.
He has seen her child.
He’s been coming here for five years,
An emotional affair on his chagrinned
Partner still living in the Empire State.
They are a cliché,
A biker and a waitress and a child and an imagined affair.
But so am I, a long-haired musician on the road
Back from an uneventful gig with gas money
In a diner we are all clichés,
Like an O’Neal play,
Nowhere to go, nothing to do,
But keep drinking, watching the tourists.
Whoever decided Maine was Vacationland
Was a terrible labeler.
Far better to drive through and observe
Then again, isn’t everywhere?
Travel tastes to me like banana Minimuffins
Eaten in the passenger seat
Of an eighteen-wheeler rumbling diesel.
It tastes like being stuck
On the wrong side of the road
With advice from a CB saying
“Make a U-turn, it’s New York, nothin’ fuckin’ matters.”
A place where food and gas mingle as one.
Thinking about how much consumption is in travel,
And anticipating the stiff-walk after a long-day’s drive
To sleep in the semen-covered walls of a Comfort Inn.
Well, so much for trying to add romance to these places.
But eloquence is seldom accurate.
Like a novel, or a sitcom, or God’s Love,
Wouldn’t we like life to like any of these?
Instead of time Measured in hours or days,
Not months or lifetimes.
Like the feeling of being free and open
With a stranger in a café whose
True love lives states away from his actual partner,
Instead of the oil, stomach ache, and expansion
Of gut that is the result of travel.
Like the satisfaction of the wind
In your hair down an open stretch of
Route one, and that wanderlust that cannot be
Satiated by anything other than flight.