“Got a wife and kids in Baltimore, Jack.
I went out for a ride and I never went back.”
(Hungry Heart by Bruce Springsteen)
A state line away from the spitfires of Kingstown
I sing the Hungry Heart refrain and rehearse
the evening lies about the Lone Rangers in my family tree.
A black cowboy hat broods in the shotgun seat.
My godfather crisscrossed interstate routes in a rust-and-bluster pickup truck.
He lived in a nation of Weldons and Ambroses,
Abandoned his family to the charity of St. Vincent.
Vanished into turquoise. Into thunderbirds.
On the border between a susurrus of maracas and accordion chimes,
I buy a workman’s shirt and root beer,
playing the part of a man who wanders where Shane went
when he rode away from the homesteader’s wife.
The Boss sings Ain’t nobody like to be alone.
I know the sons whose fathers never returned.
The hours they practiced to quicksilver the reflex from quick draw to fan fire.
Their despair when the gunslinger turned his mount toward the Tetons.
But my engine idles with maverick appetites.
350 horses priming the pump of a runaway American dream.
A barn dance invitation found in an exit-ramp diner tugs at the pocket of my Carhartt.
I have no sons tonight.