Against Travel Bags with Wheels: today’s Sunday Travel Poem

Philip Dacey

A poem / rant.

Lashing out against, of all things, travel bags with wheels.

A superficial reading suggests a message I agree with. One that I espouse for all solo travelers. Travel light. Travel with what you can manage easily by yourself.

But our poet, Philip Dacey, goes farther in his lovely poem.

It seems to me that his bag, that has traveled so far with him, also carries many travel memories. And, like his luggage that he actually lugs, the best travel memories don’t necessarily come with ease. One might first have to struggle with the culture or the terrain or the language to gain an experience or insight of lasting value.

And in the last stanza, Dacey sees more in his luggage. That it is his brother, his companion. Yes, because we travel so much, continuity of some sort, even if only in the bag we carry, offers stability in the midst of change.

Philip Dacey has authored eleven books of poetry, most recently Mosquito Operas: New and Selected Short Poems. He is the winner of numerous prizes and awards.

Against Travel Bags with Wheels

Let me bring with me
only what I can sling
over my shoulder
or lug in one hand.

Let people say, “Why is that old man
carrying his bag like that? Is he
simple-minded? Too poor or too cheap
to buy a bag with wheels?”

And let my belongings not skim
the walkways and ramps but bump
against my hip, reassuringly intimate,
whispering with the sound of cloth

rubbing on cloth about the lesson
of gravity, how the earth loves us,
and that without wheels my two legs
are enough, the rolling bag so close a cousin

to wheelchairs and rolling walkers
as to scare me into a scarcity
of carried items, only what’s necessary
for the journey, the extras jettisoned,

for this bag is my brother, the shoulder strap
his arm around my neck, the two of us
comrades for the road, this bag
my camerado, this bag I name Walt.

By Philip Dacey

  • Denise Schall

    Kindred souls Philip and I are. I wouldn’t travel without my little yellow day pack (used on a three week trip). Cobblestone streets, uneven curbs, trains, buses and the like are no problem for my pack and I.

  • Just One Boomer (Suzanne)

    Wheeled luggage is seductive, but on real trips, it seems that there are always situations where wheeled luggage doesn’t cut it—potholed streets, broken escalators and elevators, even when you have to “mind the gap” getting on and off public transportation. As a woman of a certain age, it’s a tough call. I want to be able to handle my “baggage” myself at all times–able to hoist it overhead or pick it up over an obstacle. Wheels are so heavy—but so nice on nice smooth airport floors. May this life decision (wheels or no wheels) be the toughest you have to make 😉