James Haug’s most recent book, Walking Liberty, won the Morse Poetry Prize and was published in 1999 by Northeastern University Press.
Down the Road I Go, the Song Went
After leaving my doppelganger stranded
atop his favorite stool
in a spoon outside St. Johnsbury,
I’d flagged a ride from a fastback Barracuda
and rode in the hatch.
At the wheel sat Neil Young
as a young man, tunelessly chewing a matchstick,
lugging a ton-and-a-half of ancient Detroit.
A woman beside him twice his age
that made him
turn from the road to behold her full-faced,
displaying his teeth in a broad rictus
And where are you going? he cackled over the radio,
as if all those songs had never been
written or that we ever sang
them to ourselves as we set forth each new day.
Down the road I go, the song played on,
coming to the bridge.
But this song has no bridge, yelled the driver,
there’s just this long part
after the second chorus where we all get lost.
In a dark neighborhood of Babylon
a porchlight was on–I’d seen it
trembling from across the water–
and a woman I’ve never met
drying her hands at the kitchen sink.
James, she sang,
clear as day, albeit a day wild
with approaching fronts,
everything looks different.
It’s not like it was
all bad, the place
she lived. Still
if she could endure
she thought the knotted
road thousands rode
everyday she might wind-up
Halfway there stands
Elm on the plain,
travelers who’d not lost
their way, since all they
knew was direction.
The landscape inscribed
distance in their looks.
Because there was a here
and a here after that
she was willing to range.