Monday, November 18, 2013

Self-Portrait in a 2002 VW Beetle

The Bronski Beat sings
run  away/turn away/run away
as I shift into fifth gear,
push through fog that shrouds
the tops of trees. Sometimes
I want to pass my destination
and step on the first train to anywhere,
watch the landscape and backyards
from a passenger’s point of view.

Once I passed a cop on a motorcycle.
Unwise. “You want to tell me why you think
it’s a good idea to pass me?” he asked.
The shadow of his hat darkened my door.
“I’m in love,” I answered as if it were
a universal excuse, then said,
 “Not with you, of course.” Also unwise.

My mind clutches the scrap of an idea
while I’m on the road, and the white noise
of the pavement under my tires sings
that thought into an entire musical,
complete with sets and homemade props.
With the sunroof open, all my thoughts
go to seed like a dandelion in a gust of summer.
My hair imitates.

I scrawled POETRY across an old political
bumper sticker, then added one that says
“Reading is Sexy,” another that claims “I like this,”
and a pink circle with “I love the hoop” written
in the center. I believe it’s possible
to have too many bumper stickers.

In the little plastic vase on the dashboard
I keep a pair of chopsticks and two pens.
The glovebox is a morass of papers
that prove the car is registered and insured.

In dreams my car is an anchor that drags
me into the mazy haze of underwater
swimminess, a lake that wants to swallow
my life. I spin off an empty highway
and land in my own madness.

The other night, I dreamed my middle name
was Joule – a unit of energy in my center of being.
I think of myself as Joule inside this red bubble.

I wave to the crossing guard,
tap my fingers on the steering wheel to the Bangles’
Going Down to Liverpool to Do Nothing,
and unroll the window to feel the air
howl its big, empty questions in my ears.