They say you should behave
like your childhood books taught,
where you find yourself while in other lands.

Because in your hometown
you are a decaying Texas oak tree,
toilet paper wound into your branches
soggy and clumped from last morning’s rain.

And so you leave.

Taking to heart the mythos that
physical strain across landscapes
is noble rehabilitation,
that remodeling your name
into touring poet comes
with a stipend of perception.

But they never told you
after three thousand miles
no one you return to will
have transformed with you.
Their feet are stuck pacing
while plotting in their bedroom
your roundabout dismantle.

You will have taxidermied their memories,
placed them above the mantle in your mind,
same place you keep your glass alarms
reading break in case of prolonged peace,
and implanted your head inside their jaws.

You will convince yourself once more
the circumference of their jagged worldview
fits safely onto your reduced scalp.

While standing there, head pinned left, neck strained,
surrounding yourself back within their world, you
continue speaking to yourself in
second-person past tense while
simultaneously talking to yourself in
the glass and never looking at
yourself in the now, in
the eyes or able to
speak with I’s.