It wasn’t Jesus in a popup camper, but it was alright.
I am, in a word, astonished.
I find myself home after 50 years on the road.
I’ve endured, mainly ordinary disappointments,
some worse than that.
But all that is stored in albums on the shelf.
If I had a fireplace, I’d build a fire and sit,
With a big dog I don’t have, and a cat or two,
And flip through the memories again,
Sipping brandy and smoking a pipe I don’t have,
Since I quit smoking.
I have wiped the spider webs from the door
Cleaned the musty rooms
Thrown out that rotten food left in the ‘fridge.
Cleaned the basement and attic of
Things that don’t matter.
(And maybe never did.)
There’s still more to do,
But the old place waited patiently, and now is livable.
I’ve written about all that.
I was away longer than planned,
Living under the perverse and immutable rule of
The Law of Unintended Consequences,
The law of the Universe, as written:
“It shall be impossible to control everything.
Even if you control almost everything,or
Nearly everything—more than anyone else ever has,
or ever will—”
There will always be something you miss.
And just because it’s fun to fuck with you,
This one thing will be the thing that screws you over.
A slow learner, it took most of my life to learn the rule.
The trip? A long, loopy, spastic waking fever-dream,
Out around the sun, slingshot back, coasting through
The cold void, the silence, alone,
To Mars and her moons, and back again,
To the past, to the future, and landing in the present,
Only to cross wilderness and water,
Barren desert and lush mountains.
Guess how much of that was on purpose.
The whole thing was shot through with wanting and
Emptiness and hidden vibrations and distant lights,
Filled with many corners, inevitable surprises around each,
And over and over, I met myself, wanting.
Understanding little at the time but driven by wanting.
The sea moves always, the wind moves always,
IÂ want and I want and there is no end to myÂ wanting.
I spun out and out, and around and around and down,
And, finally, ended where I began.
Now? The forms are all completed, the reports filed.
I am free. One manacle after another has been cut away.
I have nothing useful to do, and none can tell me to do it
I walk the buckled sidewalks of the old neighborhood.
A little hurt that no one asks for my autograph.
They don’t know, or care, about the journey.
But the children and I listen when the birds
Sit in the trees and sing like crystal and soar free,
Wishing we were with them,
Dreaming of soaring, singing high above the Earth.
This will take some adjustment.
I don’t know the lingo any more,
The streets have changed,
The Blankenships next door got old, died,
And the kids living in their house
Don’t care where I’ve been.
Difference is dangerous, they’ve learned.
And even though I know I belong—or did—
They give me wide berth,
Laugh and run away
Shouting in an unknown, yet faintly familiar language.
Inhabiting the skin of my most advanced age yet is
The strangest feeling, sometimes.
Inside I’m still young, curious, horny and wistful.
Still wanting, but not any more sure than
Ever what would satisfy the need.
Then I look in the mirror and see
A stranger with mileage, a certain weariness… but me .
I wish I could grow one magic eye,
Able to see the truth of things,
And yet not despair.
But maybe I found a seed of it on the trip,
And while it needs a little tending,
There is occasionally some magic in it.
And that pleases me.
Everything I’ve done, everything and everyone
I’ve known; the friends, the enemies;
The broken bodies I left in my wake,
All the times I failed to just be kind,
(When it would have cost me nothing),
Or to learn from my mistakes,
If any of it had been different,
Even something small I didn’t notice at the time,
The story would have been entirely different.
So tonight, I’ll live the story I imagine,
By the imaginary fireplace, with
The imaginary brandy and dog and cats,
And flip through the old album, the only thing
That’s real, and let the truth rise.
That’s all I ever really wanted.