Vox Populi

A Public Sphere for Poetry, Politics, and Nature

Jose Padua: Courtesy

While stopped at a light this afternoon
the big black pickup truck beside me was playing
something like Toby Keith
while I was sitting in my minivan
playing “Right Off” from
Miles Davis’s A Tribute to Jack Johnson,
and I was reminded of the line
in the old Simon and Garfunkel song “A Dangling Conversation”
that goes, “And you read your Emily Dickinson,
and I my Robert Frost,”
with my Miles Davis substituting for Emily Dickinson
and his Toby Keith substituting for Robert Frost–
though maybe it’s the other way around–
and instead of being lovers in conflict or at odds
as in the song written by Paul Simon,
I’m just a father taking his kids home from school
and the good ole boy in the pickup truck
is going wherever good ole boys go
when they blast their Toby Keith.
And though I always hated that line
in the Simon and Garfunkel song–
or maybe it was the song’s characters
that I hated because they seemed like
such pretentious fuckwads—
it was because of that song
that I saw myself and the good ole boy
as in a kind of relationship.
So, when he turned up the volume of his car stereo
after he stopped beside me
I, like a guy in a dysfunctional relationship,
leaned over to turn up the volume on mine
to retaliate,
but then I stopped
and kept looking straight ahead,
ready to go my own way
because we had an entire country to live in
filled with small spaces,
here and there,
that I could call home.

— Jose Padua




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