On the plane over Texas,
I read seven pages of the book
you gave me and fall asleep against the window.
2,100 miles later is waking up in LaGuardia
and my watch says I slept three hours longer
than my body has known life.
There are so many time zones between the runway
and my birth that I wonder how old I really am.
Yesterday, it was spring in Seattle.
In New York, it will be winter another two months.
I take two pills and let time slip into next week.
Here, I am in Denver and no one on 16th Street has my eyes.
I swallow 3,100 heartbeats in eight blocks with another three pills.
Panic is what remains after survival. I have not traveled far enough to
know what comes after.
Denver is a city that never grew up, a homeless boy
in his father’s hand-me-downs. No matter how many
neon lights flashing in the window, a pool hall is still a pool hall.
A drunk is still a drunk, even in his best dress shirt.
Portland stole my coat and the phone dies before
she doesn’t call me back.
Delirium carries me two hours north to the Wyoming border.
This is the house where I grew up. My mother worries with her eyes
but we belly laugh as though the wind isn’t howling outside.
In the morning, she hands me a skinny stack of bills,
tells me to buy a bus ticket to somewhere warm.
36 hours later, St. Paul shivers me off the greyhound.
I buy a cup of coffee at Kopplin’s and read another seven pages
of my book, dog-ear a page and leave it on the table.
I know that I’m only 10 blocks from Sarah’s apartment but walk downtown instead.
All the shop windows are mostly bare from post-holiday sales.
Midwestern folk bundled to their chins shuffle to diners on lunch break.
I envy the heat shared between mittened hands, know there is a bed
with a standing invitation less than twenty minutes away but I can’t stomach the inevitability of dawn knifing through tomorrow’s blinds.
Sundown finds my boots
crunching fresh snow on 219, angry with myself for coming back here.
Up the road, two boys stand with red noses, bright grins, and their thumbs out.
They still find this to be romantic. Their hunger for something more is still novelty
and I am grateful when a truck pulls onto the shoulder to cater to their faith.
My shoulders are the shiver kings of alchemy, turning empty miles
into dead weight, limbs of privilege into driftwood from a far away shore.
My body has become like the drugs in my blood.
Searching for purpose, ceaselessly buoying the concrete waves
of America’s blue highway veins.