Monday, April 7, 2008

James: Almost There

Almost There

I am driving West on I86
listening to David Bowie—
Life on Mars?
on repeat,
casting glances to where
I’ve engraved the words
'Almost There'
at Ten and Two
on my steering wheel,
with the destination:
I breathe the neon gas
of road signs, looking for one
that might tell how far until
Someplace With Something Worth Seeing.

I contemplate interstellar portraits of
all the lights dying;
What must the Moon have thought when
the Northeastern United States turned off?

I spend the highway reprogramming a heartbeat
to match the protest songs of a generation,
manipulate my voice into radio waves,
aim it at satellites to converse with the planet,
if you’re out there,
triangulate my coordinates and tell me where I’m going:
Yesterday will always be
not quite as good as it could have been.
Tomorrow will never be anything but possibility.
Remind me what it’s like
to wake up in a city that forgot you were there,
tell me again about the open road
while I’m stuck overnight in Grand Central
reading Ferlinghetti,
make antagonism tangible so I can have a ‘this place’
to want to get myself out of,
write me the equation
for the medicinal effect of avoidance,
carve my spine out of ball bearings
so I may occasionally slide from my skin,
compress me into aerosol cans
so I can mingle at dinner parties in the troposphere,
whisper me the words to every
soldier poem,
Dear John letter,
suicide note,
grocery list,
and religious text.
Teach me the phonetics of humming piano keys
in a forgotten language.
Call me between the hours of 2 and 3 AM,
leave a message after the beep;

I’m no longer questioning
the presence of life elsewhere.

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