– Tony Hoagland
In a little while I’ll be drifting up an on-ramp,
sipping coffee from a styrofoam container,
checking my gas gauge with one eye
and twisting the dial of the radio
with the fingers of my third hand,
Looking for a station I can steer to Saturn on.
It seems I have the traveling disease
again, an outbreak of that virus
celebrated by the cracked lips
of a thousand blues musicians—song
about a rooster and a traintrack,
a sunrise and a jug of cherry cherry wine.
It’s the kind of perceptual confusion
that makes your loved ones into strangers,
that makes a highway look like a woman
with air conditioned arms. With a
bottomless cup of coffee for a mouth
and jewelry shaped like pay phone booths
dripping from her ears.
In a little while the radio will
almost have me convinced
that I am doing something romantic,
something to do with “freedom” and “becoming”
instead of fright and flight into
an anonymity so deep
it has no bottom,
only signs to tell you what direction
you are falling in: CHEYENNE, SEATTLE,
WICHITA, DETROIT—Do you hear me,
do you feel me moving through?
With my foot upon the gas,
between the future and the past,
I am here—
here where the desire to vanish
is stronger than the desire to appear.