Travis Truax

Long Ago and Not What It Seemed

I know this town taught me something,
how stars are barely there when we are young,

how a road seems longer when you are driving.
High school was a time of ticking clocks,

class bells; looks were all that mattered.
My friends and I—we learned to drive by driving,

picking up the patterns, weaving between potholes,
knowing which ditches reached out to grab our wheels.

Sometimes our turn signals clicked with the song.
Sometimes we never said goodnight.

This town keeps telling me, I tried to give you
something you needed. And I got what I got, that’s all.

But this boom-and-bust story keeps returning, or I do.
I know greed is a hard word that leaves us all poor.

I know streetlights sometimes forget to stop glowing,
long beyond the first syrup-drip of dawn.

Oklahoma City, 2011

Sorting out our impressions,
this city made us weary—
with wind, with brick,
with the memory of moving.
We were young here once
you know. Like a new season.
Like new grass. We were
small bits of the eclectic
and hyperbolic, decorating
our apartment with simple
flowers and posters, large
dolor-burnt candles of
catching-up and crying.
Tell me, what did we abandon,
only to hold up and let shine
a little while? This city
pushed us away from us
you know. I, with my road
dreams and empty palms,
with my nonchalance,
I didn’t have what you deserved.
Now time has taught us pains
of passing through and
hanging on. How we are now.
Not worse, or better. Not what
this city could have been
at all.

Author Portrait

Travis Truax earned his bachelor’s degree in English from Southeastern Oklahoma State University in 2010. After college, he spent several years working in various national parks out west, including Zion, Olympic and Yellowstone. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in Connecticut River Review, Quarterly West, Bird's Thumb, The Pinch, Raleigh Review, and The Cossack Review. Currently he is in Bozeman, Montana.