I have always had a go-bag
packed and ready, stashed
under my bed, tucked away
in the deepest corner of a closet.
Over the years I’ve changed
what’s in it, how much money
I’d need to stay gone forever
from her or anyone else or any place
with too much snow in April
or too much hot in October
or too much traffic all the time, or just an itch,
and, now, the go-bag is ready again.
At times, my clothes no longer fit.
Once a year, I rummage through
my wardrobe and toss out everything
I no longer need, cart it off to Goodwill
on a Saturday, look inside the gray bag
to make sure the future is folded neatly
and ready, and if a pair of pants
or shirt fit better, I shake hands with the sleeves,
fold them over and tuck them good night.
Now, there’s a Ruger LCP 380
hidden between my Levis and a cable-stitched sweater.
I’m not as strong as I once was
and need a little security when navigating
the dark alleys and salty waves.
I have more cash these days and different expectations
as well as a list of possible aliases.
When you saw it stuffed under an old red coat
and asked, I said it was just a duffle bag
my father gave me once long ago,
something he never used.
William Walsh is an award-winning poet whose third collection of poems, Fly Fishing In Times Square, recently won the Cervena Barva Press Book Series, which is forthcoming in late 2018. He is also a novelist, having most recently placed as a finalist in the Pirate’s Alley William Faulkner Writing Competition for The Pig Rider. As well, his novels, The Beginning of Sorrows and The Boomerang Mattress were recently a finalist and semi-finalist in the Faulkner Competition. His other books include Lost In the White Ruins, Speak So I Shall Know Thee: Interviews with Southern Writers, The Ordinary Life of a Sculptor, The Conscience of My Other Being, Under the Rock Umbrella: Contemporary American Poets from 1951-1977, and David Bottoms: Critical Essays and Interviews. His work has appeared in AWP Chronicle, Cimarron Review, Five Points, Flannery O’Connor Review, The Georgia Review, James Dickey Review, The Kenyon Review, Michigan Quarterly Review, North American Review, Poetry Daily, Poets & Writers, Rattle, Shenandoah, Slant, and Valparaiso Poetry Review. He is the director of the MFA Program at Reinhardt University in Waleska, GA.
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