On the Road with Tom Jones to All the Usual Places

Photograph by Jose Padua
In some of the best scenes
I’m on the road,
heading toward a purple and orange sunset
during our rice and canned tuna for dinner days in the 60s,
on a night when supper was something else.
The radio is on and in between tunes
I don’t mind the asshole a.m. DJ
with the used car salesman’s voice—
I even think he’s cool,
though I know enough
not to ever trust anyone like that.
I’m at an age when
everything is slow,
from every boring trip to the store
to two sweet minutes of Tom Jones
singing “It’s Not Unusual.”
With the voice, the horns, the beat,
I’m singing along with my lips
and keeping time with my memory.
Decades later, my daughter,
when she’s three,
will say that listening
to Tom Jones, “makes me feel
like I have pink hair.”
She almost blushes to say so.
This is the movie of my life,
the one that gets shown
after midnight,
when everyone is sleeping
and I can’t.
When my mind prowls the landscape
like a fast car changing lanes
on the Interstate
before making a quick exit
down the ramp because
the man inside driving wants
to get to the library
before it closes to return
his overdue books.

-Jose Padua

Photograph by Jose Padua

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