Toledo

Toledo

 

The secret of the journey is that it starts with where you’re going,

every mile that you spin is a mile you are closer;

every postcard that you send from a rest stop is a promissory note.

I write these notes on stolen pages in a motel in Toledo, 

from the back of Gideon’s Bible on these pages I’ve torn.

I don’t think that it is sinful, these are not the Revelations;

I’m using God’s blank pages for what they’re good for.

 

And I believe the electroplated bones inside my chest won’t break

I believe the gas in the tank will last

Though the day is coming and it’s coming fast

When the giants behind us have the last laugh

Well it’s not today

Gonna make it home, Toledo

 

I am watching from my window in this motel in Toledo:

a man fixes up his engine, a man bargains to get laid.

Suddenly, I’m thinking, in a seven-forty-seven John Sinclair leaves America for Amsterdam.

Will he sit there in a cafe, in a haze of marijuana, thinking, "Lawrence Ferlinghetti," thinking, "Martin Luther King"?

I think we lost another.

Man, we throw away our poets.

For a moment they’re our voices and no one gets paid.

 

And I believe the electroplated bones inside my chest won’t break

I believe the gas in the tank will last

Though the day is coming, coming fast

The giants behind us have the last laugh

Well it’s not today

Gonna make it home, Toledo

 

Outside someone’s yelling in a language,

maybe Spanish, maybe Hindu, maybe German, maybe Lebanese … Dutch.

Lately, I am thinking I will sing into my armpit;

I will play like a mosquito, oh so quietly I’ll play.

Like a beggar in a temple, a pilgrim in a whorehouse,

my intentions my surroundings diametrically opposed.

You know, what I’m thinking as I’m writing you this letter is tomorrow I’ll be closer with three weeks of dirty clothes.

I hope we get a better country, get a better border between poets and stockholders and the rifles on the shelf.

I hope I get to see you naked wearing nothing but a daisy.

If I make it through Toledo, tomorrow, who knows.

 

And I believe the electroplated bones inside my chest won’t break

I believe the gas in the tank will last

The day is coming, coming fast

When the giants behind us have the last laugh

Well it’s not today

Gonna make it home, Toledo

Make it home, Toledo

Make it home, Toledo

 

(Life Underwater Music, 2003)

 

James O'Brien