Tiny Epics

When they realize they’re being chased,
most people turn the stolen car towards home.
Not so different from Odysseus
who struggled to return to Ithaca for ten long years.
Even at 90 miles per hour, even in the dark,
even drunk or drugged, they try to loop around
until they reach familiar freeways
where they recognize the exit ramps of their past
and remember how to navigate the tangled streets.

Even when they’re boxed in by police cars
and they somehow manage to roll out an open door,
and now on foot, they keep running through alleys,
jumping over walls as sirens wail,
into schoolyards and across scrubby lots,
lit up by the Cyclops of a searchlight.

Then down stairs, two at a time,
discarded Trojans on the steps,
into basements where they’d read comic books
and dreamed of being heroes as children,
until most of their friends were cannibalized
by poverty or hopelessness.

They’ll push through the back doors of churches
where spirits still hover, calling their names.
Places they haven’t been for years
but here they are, hearts thudding,
dogs howling in the distance,
running again through the old streets.

A tiny epic but an epic all the same.
Like Odysseus, filthy and torn up,
unrecognizable, dressed like a beggar.
Heading for home,
where everyone believes he is dead
or might as well be.

Published in Mal Pais Review, Lummox Press

Photo by Redd on Unsplash