This time the leaving felt especially good
as if I’d moved
toward some clean elemental selfishness
only the right people could respect.
Above me, though,
no visible moon, no trace of those few stars
I could think of as personal
when I felt lost.
Lost. There’s a melodramatist
in every serious man. I merely hadn’t found
in conflict with themselves, enough trouble,
enough joy. Ah, the bucket seat held me
as if I belonged.
Soon the road was all fast food
and car dealerships, closed, but lit up
like some mock end
of the world. It was my way home
yet I felt removed, alert, outside
watching a man drive home
in the sudden strangeness of America,
past the arches
and signs that guaranteed everything
marked down. On the tape
Janis lan lamented
the good old days gone by,
but I wasn’t thinking now of loss.
I saw a billboard
and translated all the words.
How clear everything was! We eat
and get hungry.
We imagine going wild, but instead
we spend. Texaco was on my left,
Prudential up ahead,
and I recognized without anticipation
these were the landmarks I’d so often
told others they’d see
before it was necessary to turn.