Toward Bakersfield

Toward Bakersfield

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I

Because the road comes
without calling it, head low
like it doesn’t want trouble
but really does,

and the bright cars,
with faces like their owners,
want to witness that trouble,
want nothing more,

I think we should pull over,
lie down in oleander, until
the road goes away.

II

There is no past
until you pass it, until
the edges curl. It’s why
we burn photographs.

Every Fall I’m astonished
by two things. First, it’s Fall.
And second, that I can’t pay
to sleep on a shoulder.

And then the road shows up,
filthy and not listening.
Even if I turn around, even
if I take back all my steps
it won’t end with me.

III

Tonight, the radio says the moon
will be green. It says nothing,
however, about the stars,
whether they’ll act accordingly.

IV

I’ve never said this, so
I know what I’m talking about.

All roads begin by boiling
in cauldrons. Someone has to
pour them out, cool them
down. Someone always does.

Which means there is nowhere
it won’t find us. The road is also
an ancient snake, which means
it doesn’t blink.

V

I swear I used to have night
memorized.

I could drive with lights off
and navigate by whatever song
was next. But that’s a thing
you lose with age. Like color.

If our lives aren’t books
someone should tell us sooner.
If we’re supposed to read each other,
there should be quiet rooms
at every corner.

This has something to do
with why there’s always glass
by the road, always baby clothes,
and one shoe.

VI

You know who death doesn’t care about?
The dead. You know what’s hotter
than the road? The moon.

VII

Trouble loves a road.
That’s the second thing
no one tells you.

Also, a flower is a musical
instrument; the stem is where
you put your fingers, the petals
your mouth.

Do you still want to go
anywhere? Do you still think
turning a wheel will help?

The horizon doesn’t want
to be reached or remembered.
Come under the pink and white
blooms of the highway with me,
the dark will make room for us.

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