What Keeps the Driver?

What Keeps the Driver?

Early morning he loads up, Sacramento, five days

Monotonous ride through dust and hills

He’s done this trip before, same time every year

Day one, clear head not much thinking

Day two, hard pressed deadline, things getting in the way

Day three, zoned out, caffeine just hurts his eyes and chest now

It kicks in, that place he’s been before

He thinks, how is he going to get out of this one?

He’s alone, no one to stop him

Freedom but in the worst way

Can’t numb the thoughts this time

Getting tested on delivery

Sober thoughts, lucid nightmares

It’s just a haul

No point, there’s no point, there’s never a point

He could stop, give up, quit

No one will care

He thinks it often

But he never does it

That’s his Dad’s fault

The man never let the boy quit

But Dad’s dead now

So the boy, now a man, won’t quit his haul

He’ll just quit the journey all together

That’s a whole other thing

Day four, pit stops, he looks at the other drivers

Seasoned dogs built into the road, they love it

They see something he doesn’t

They tell him that everyone has to bear their own cargo

And you just got to get it to where it needs to be

It’s that simple

No, it aint

Simple is staring through that glass window at the road

Watching the yellow dashes flash by singing “American Pie”

Going through the plains, seeing flat and saying to yourself

“Boy this is wonderful”

All in the effort to meet some expectations you never set for yourself

But expectations that were set for you

That’s simple, and some can stomach it

But they never really see the road

They never feel the road

Feeling every bump, every crack, every twist

Every doubt, every question, every emotion

Personified by the road

Dragging on eighteen wheels, every burden

The skeleton behind the wheel

The songs that never sound the same

The girl back home who you’ve lost but still have

The birds that tweet along the way but you don’t hear

Is this cabin his life now?

Is this all he’ll ever do?

Is this journey the only one he has left?

The people he meets can’t see the road like he does

It’s simple because they’re simple

They never question

Does the cargo really matter?

Do they really matter?

Or do they really believe

That people are depending on them

Maybe they’re right to think that they have something to give

And in brief moments he thinks it too

He thinks, maybe that’s his purpose

If only he could deliver

And sadly, he returns to the notion

That it isn’t enough

And in those dark nights

On that last stretch, Day five

Road straight, chassis creaking, cabin humming

With one hand low on the wheel

And the other hand hovering over twelve o’clock

He wonders

Who will notice if he doesn’t get there?

What will keep the driver, driving?


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