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Recorded for Poem-a-Day, June 14, 2016.
About this Poem 

“Road Trip is a simple, enduring American fantasy (‘But I reckon I got to light out for the territory’) elaborated into a structure complicated enough to justify a theme so perennial and familiar. I’ve been dealing with a lot of painful and insoluble problems lately.”
—Vijay Seshadri

Road Trip

I could complain. I’ve done it before.
I could explain. I could say, for instance, that
I’m sick of being slaughtered in my life’s mountain passes,
covering my own long retreat,
the rear guard of my own brutal defeat—
dysentery and frostbite and snipers,
the mules freezing to death,
blizzards whipping the famished fires until they expire, 
the pathetic mosquito notes of my horn . . .
But, instead, for once, I’m keeping quiet, and maybe tomorrow
or maybe the day after or maybe the day after that
I’m just going to drive away down the coast
and not come back.
I haven’t told anyone, and I won’t.
I won’t dim with words the radiance of my gesture.
And besides, the ones who care have guessed already.
Looking at them looking at me, I know they know
when they turn their backs I’ll go.
The secrets I was planning to floor them with?
They’re already packed in my trunk, in straw,
in a reinforced casket.
The bitter but herbal and medicinal truths I concocted
to revive them with?
Tomorrow or the day after or the day after that,
on the volcano beaches fringed with black sand
and heaped with tangled beds of kelp,
by the obsidian tide pools that cradle the ribbed limpet
and the rockbound star,
I’ll scatter those truths to the sea breezes,
and float the secrets on the waters that the moon
reels in and plays out,
reels in and plays out,
with a little votive candle burning on their casket,
and then I’ll just be there, in the sunset’s coppery sheen,
in the dawn pearled by discrete, oblong, intimate clouds
that move without desire or motive.
Look at the clouds. Look how close they are.

Copyright © 2016 by Vijay Seshadri. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on June 14, 2016, by the Academy of American Poets.

Copyright © 2016 by Vijay Seshadri. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on June 14, 2016, by the Academy of American Poets.

Vijay Seshadri

Vijay Seshadri

Vijay Seshadri was born in Bangalore, India, in 1954 and came to America at the age of five.

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