Pasted Mind: road trips to remember my life is not as big as i think it is

Charlie Persuk

i make cool collages about cool stuff

I wrote this poem based on a prompt asking me to “write about the summer using all five senses.” Of course, since the first draft, the poem has gone through many edits, and now only vaguely follows the prompt. The inspiration was a memory I have from summer of seventh grade, when I lived in a monastery for three months, and there were practically no other people around us so all the roads were quiet and empty. It was a drastic difference from the constant city life I was used to, and the lack of light pollution made the night sky and moon incredible to look at.


road trips to remember my life is not as big as i think it is


white knuckles grip the steering wheel

as i drive with no direction

i just need to get away from home

with people heaving egos the size of skyscrapers

and problems weighing three times as heavy as i do

tired of city lights clouding stardust skies

tired of looking up for guidance and only seeing the moon

tired of the city hum that never stops

i wear it out with

the low drone of wheels on the freeway

as rumble strips shake me awake

keeping my fire sparked

eyes skipping back and forth 

bleary lights pass by back and forth

objects in mirror are closer than they appear

the moon shines brightly in the distance

the city never looked so far away

the city never looked so small

its problems are so minuscule now


i find myself at a gas station 

at the border of the city and no man’s land

glazed eyes devouring glazed donuts

and scoping out the slurpee section

the moon follows me

from gas stations and back roads and back on the freeway

back and forth

i can’t see the city anymore

only the moon above my head

only green signs on the highway

illuminated by the brights on my car

there is no traffic at night

only the taste of my thoughts on the tip of my tongue

i stick my head out of the window 

i am going too fast and the wind is choking me

so i look up at the stars

who cares about the road

try to find a constellation i know

eyes skimming back and forth

the moon is still following me

i remember i am still small

i am so small

my thoughts race too fast and i’m probably about to crash

i close the window


i have been awake since i left but 

the roads have been asleep

heavy-lidded cement

worn down by tires and padded feet

doe eyes in headlights

and her foal follows behind

i take a breath with the world and the car starts once more

engine revving and i can hear the rocks under the rubber

we are back in no man’s land

trees taller than skyscrapers

the porcelain light of the moon lighting my way

no avenues or streets to follow

no restless pedestrians and redirecting phone calls

only back roads back and forth

i inhale and exhale 

pine trees and a slurpee for the road

i stop at another gas station

ask the cashier how far away i am from the city

he only points out that

“the moon seems awfully near”

the moon looks small to me

i’m even smaller

the city doesn’t exist on the highway

how big does it feel now?