“The Road”

Road_in_Norway-1
This is the road.
This is the road.

This is
the road of your ancestors
the road of your enemies

This is the road that calls
This is the road that calls
to you

For there is freedom
on the road
There is life and death
on the road

There are cars whizzing by
And birds overhead
And week-old road kill
on the road

There are tired feet
and tired hands
and tired lungs
and tired eyes
on the road

The sun?
Well, it blinds you.
The wind?
It howls past you
and  you just have your thoughts
you just have thoughts that never end
and everywhere you look
is a place to sleep
and you no longer wonder
when or what
you’re going to eat
Your family is there
Your friends are there
It’s your fifth birthday party
You kiss soft lips
You dance around
a broken sprinkler head
like a
savage
and it was all very good
before the road
And all of it goes with you

on the road.

You’re a hero
on the road
A fucking loser
on the road.
You’re a genius on the road and a bum on the road
You’re a piece of shit on the road
and a diamond
in the rough
on the road
You’re whoever you want to be
on the road
and whoever people tell you
you are

on the road

And the stars shine down on you and the wind creeps through your sweater and you’re thankful for your sleeping bag
and you’re thankful to the people who
fed you and took you in
and when they don’t
and you’re sleeping in a baseball dugout
or under a bridge
and hoping nobody sees you
you feel like an outlaw
you feel like the bottom of the earth
and you are alone

on the road.

You were respectable
before the road
You had high hopes
before the road

Now the road is your hope
Your final hurrah
Your last ditch attempt
to fit
until you remember
what else it was
you needed to do

And that too
is the road

It is the road
It is
the road
This is every road
that calls
to you.

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3 thoughts on ““The Road”

  1. If I had wrote something that moved a person to tears, I have to admit that A) I would really want to know about it (being a Leo and all) and B) I would be quite satisfied with myself for producing such work. So I just have to tell you dear fellow Leo that this here poem of yours has done just that. How have you so shockingly (yet somehow eloquently) taken so much of what I wordlessly felt on my own personal walk and exposed them as words on a screen for all to see. These were feelings that I believed to be ineffable, feelings so fragile and unstable that they needed to be harbored and monitored in highly regulated climate controlled conditions. Reading them leaves me feeling vulnerable yet somehow brave. Thank you.
    So does this mean you are back at it? All those soliciting voicemails the road has been leaving you must be really stacking up by now, eh? Are you returning its calls? Are you walking? If so, that is fantastic. I can see your Muse on your back now, with a rollicking fist in the air, kicking her spurs into your sides, dangling that carrot in front of you. Not taking her is out of the question. I hate to go all ‘Footprints in the Sand’ on you but she WILL carry you if you need her to, as long as you don’t bitch too much.
    I was just re-reading my little Peace Pilgrim booklet today, the very one she handed out as she walked. I met a woman once whose parents were supports of PP and had these booklets printed up for her to pass out. This woman had boxes of these booklets sitting in her garage and gave me like 100. I would love to somehow mail you one (or a dozen) so you had it with you. Carrying it with me as I walked felt like a kind of torch being passed on in a way, you know? One thing I was thinking about today in regards to my own walk was just how so much fullness and richness and expansiveness sprang forth from such a simple thing as walking day after day. I wasn’t busy. I was THERE, maybe for the first time ever. Busyness had been replaced with fullness. Uh, we are all so busy! “How have you been?” they ask. “Oh, I’ve been SO busy, I’ve been really busy, been keeping busy” we say. From now on when someone tells me they have been really busy lately I will just start saying “Oh, I’m so sorry to hear that.” It reminds me of this passage from Peace Pilgrim….
    “The world may look at you and believe that you are facing great problems, but always there are the inner resources to easily overcome these problems. Nothing seems difficult. There is a calmness and a serenity and unhurriedness – no more striving or straining about anything. Life is full and life is good, but life is nevermore overcrowded. That’s a very important thing I’ve learned: If your life is in harmony with your part in the Life Pattern, and if you are obedient to the laws which govern this universe, then your life is full and good but not overcrowded. If it is overcrowded, you are doing more than is right for you to do, more than is your job to do in the total scheme of things.”

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  2. Thank you for your words, Sarah. Yes, the road is calling me again. It never stops. I don’t know how it will play out though. I don’t have a cause like Peace Pilgrim or so many others who walk. Not that I don’t believe in world peace. I’d like it very much if we had that. But I don’t think I could hand out Peace Pilgrim’s pamphlets, knowing there’s a vast gulf between PP’s inner life and my own. That was true the first time I walked. I was trying to fit my life and experiences in to her framework, instead of simply being the being that I am. And now? It’s just the road calling me, and the Spirit/Muse driving me towards some unknown destination, and me just following, trying to go with the flow as best I can.

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  3. I wouldn’t worry about whether or not you have a cause to walk for. The cause is secondary. You have more in common with Peace Pilgrim than not. I didn’t hand out her pamphlet on my walk, I just carried one with me as a sort of good luck charm or talisman and for a pick me up when I got scared or discouraged. I did have about ten extra copies with me but only gave away a few if someone really wanted one. I did start out intending to give out more but then felt like it wasn’t part of my walk. I was walking in hopes to raise awareness, or even just start a dialogue, about our reliance on fossil fuels. But that was just a guise. I was walking for selfish reasons. I was walking because I didn’t know what else to do. I was walking because I felt I had nothing to lose. By laying down a structure of walking for a particular cause I was able to take my attention (or some of it anyway) away from myself and my own problems. 12 years of psychotherapy trained me to focus on and pour over me and my own problems. But all it did was amplify them I think. This is why talk therapy doesn’t work for the most part. I think (or hope) that as a society we are beginning to move away from individual centered introspection to a more empathetic outrospection. Here’s a good little bit about it by Roman Krznaric

    What do think is stopping you from hitting the open road tomorrow?
    Is because you don’t have a cause to walk for?
    I’ll give you a cause;
    Walk for the unknown.
    Walk for reality.
    Walk for freedom.
    Walk to free your senses.
    Walk for the sake of Walking.
    Walk for someone you love, dedicate it to them.
    Walk for find yourself
    Walk to lose yourself.
    Walk because you can.
    Walk.

    Don’t worry about originality. Don’t worry about following in someone else’s footsteps. Even if you decided to do the Peace Pilgrim thing again there’s no way you wouldn’t breathe new life into it and make it your own. There’s no way you wouldn’t have your own take on it, your own style. You could just use the Peace Pilgrim persona as a diving board. I don’t know.

    “It may be when we no longer know what to do, we have come to our real work, and that when we no longer know which way to go, we have begun our real journey.” -Wendell Berry

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