I reckon there’s a limited number of ‘natural’ poems (themes) in a person. Those recursive explorations that occur, so you think you might be writing the same poem over and again (Jack Torrance style). Well, this seems to be one of them.
I’d watched a Western film starring Tommy Lee Jones and it set me off down a familiar path (in hindsight). Yeah, well, I love Westerns. I’ve written many poems inspired by Westerns, and an ongoing prose work (The Lick of It). It’s something that resonates with me, me with it.
Anyway, here you go.
I would go West. I’d go West even now I am not a young man.
I would go West, I would. Only, what West there was is long lost.
I still look West. But there is nothing that is westerly,
there is nothing Western left to head to.
The days of being able to runaway, to run off to someplace
that doesn’t, not quite, exist are ended. Every page,
every last darned page, of this world is written on.
It can seem we are birthed ink-stained into it.
Still, wagon trains form. The West remains a much-promised land.
Always there will be wagon masters stringing folk along.
A journey is a journey though it has nowhere for it to end.
(The true West is empty, nothing awaits there but its emptiness.)
(Right now, the world is an hotel with no vacancies.)
Shouldn’t I just, goddamnit, head West regardless?
Maybe I ought to pray so that I have a prayer to be answered.
If I just ran and kept on, I’d be certain to run into something.
I would go West. Yes, I would, for the clarity of its blankness,
for its untold story. But that story has been told.
It was not a tale any different to any other.
Drink was poured into a fresh glass until it was overfilled.
And I would be left as I am. There would be me. And there would be
love, the plurality of love (my love, your love and their love).
And there would be the overwhelming stuff of life crowded about.
And I would imagine there was a West I might retreat into.