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Traveling Incognito by Justin Rousse | Word Riot

May 15, 2011      

Traveling Incognito by Justin Rousse

Listen to a reading of “Traveling Incognito” by Justin Rousse.

If I surprise you, it won’t be on a Sunday.
It will be on a Monday when our blue laundered lives
yield to free space in overcrowded closets,
and we discover a gossamer possibility
spun across a wire hanger from the light
at the back of the mind. Everything else
will darken, and the starched white collars
of familiarity will melt, and we’ll pack
everything we’ve intended to look at
for years and years, at last finding room
in a small traveling bag. It won’t be easy
to forsake all the known quantities,
to say good-bye to your mother living
in the Deep South of everything
we’ve left behind. And it will not be easy
to write a final note of explanation
to those already on the Interstate
who’ve lost their bearings and who linger
at rest stops, stretching and calculating miles.
Three thousand thoughts away, you’ll call me,
forgetting what day it is, my voice sounding
as strange as a foreign climb up broken
lighthouse steps at Point Reyes. You’ll say:
Give me the light that just came on,
we’re the dispossessed now, I know it,
and none of the tailored suits fit any more,
and I’ve thrown away all the safety pins
that kept the visible invisible. And I will
say to you: Burn all the recipes and abandon
your home in the suburbs. Give up your friends,
give up your family, rename.

Justin Rouse

About the author:

Justin Rousse holds an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Alabama. He has written two novels, a collection of short fiction, and is completing a book of poetry. He formerly lived in Paris and is currently teaching at a college of health sciences in Saudi Arabia.

    2 comments to Traveling Incognito by Justin Rousse

    • Laurie B

      It takes real courage for ex-pats to rename themselves.

    • Justin Rousse


      It takes even more courage to forsake all the known quantities in order to begin a new life in another country.

      Thanks for your observation!

      Best wishes,

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