Jimmy’s Serial Cities
Jimmy in a window seat of a Greyhound bus
bound for Battle Creek, the Cereal City.
First town in a five-stop circuit,
spread across his Spring Break week,
high school’s Sophomore year.
One night there, then next ticket—
on to Grand Rapids. He’s amazed
his folks allowed these self-directed visits
to apiece friend in each town. Grand Rapids
seems damned peculiar, if you haven’t been there,
been clued in. Three days there, then northbound.
Traverse on the bay that’s half their worker’s pay.
It’s Spring downstate, but Winter here. There’s sleet.
Jimmy calls Ma from the depot’s payphone,
says he’s fine and fed and not robbed yet.
He doesn’t mention how glad he is
that growing up is nearly over. Little patience
in him with the wait for full-time freedom
after this taste of it traveling. The tonic trip,
the last leg home, Jimmy has a five-hour heart to heart
with a stranger whom he falls in Like with.
This trip continues. This trip was launched
by one version of the guy, while another iteration
of him finishes. Jimmy comes home
slightly taller, ready for the road.
Todd Mercer was nominated for a Pushcart Prize in Fiction in 2019 and a Best of the Net in Poetry in 2018. His collection Ingenue is forthcoming in 2020 from Celery City Press. Recent work appears in The Lake, Dunes Review and The Museum of Americana.