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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.