Saturday, July 4, 2009

Cheap Motels--they're still out there

of all the cheap motels I best remember

the sign by the shower said
let it run 5 minutes for hot,
the sign by the door said
don't use our towels
to check your oil, the glasses
were dirty, the ceiling bulb
was bare, night wind came in
at the door, the bed sagged
the sheets were thin, the walls
were cold and the room smelled
slightly of mildew,
the tv was twenty years old,
but ah my friend
so were we
so were we
Another poem from 'All Over America: Road Poems." The photo was taken recently and is not the motel in the poem. Perhaps the most surprising thing to some people is that this Rodeway Inn just a touch east of Columbus Ohio was a fine clean place. I could have stayed there a week reading and writing poems.

At Mimi's Cottage

Just spent a long weekend at Mimi's place in Northern Wisconsin. You can see it here and the poem fills in with a little more info.

Mimi's Cottage

Imagine eight hundred square feet
on four levels. The bedroom's up,
the book nook's down.
You walk outside and around
to the guest room
with its window on the lake

No insulation.

Rustic bare wood walls and studs
with book shelves in between,
a wood burning stove
we once lit in August
on the way to Manitoba.

No microwave. No tv.

The phone's a wood-carved duck
that quacks when someone calls.
It's a place to write and play Scrabble,
beat drums and make up songs.

No pressure.

In this northwoods house of words
friends gather -- whatever happens
is just what's supposed to happen.

(Webb Lake, Wisconsin)

(The poems also in "All Over America: Road Poems," see for info on the book and other sample poems)

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Things Seen Along the Road

After the annual Spring Break Road Trip to Jack's Grandma, my mom, I'm inspired to post something about the road. Coming home we always stop at Schoop's diner for fabulous, "hand-shaped" burgers that extend way beyond the bun. Schoops in located on US 30, in Warsaw, Indiana, about 30 miles west of Fort Wayne.

And here's a road poem based on 3 Guys from Albany's first major tour to perform in Albanys in Wisconsin, Illinois and Indiana. The poem also appears in my book, All Over America: Road Poems, just released by Foothills Publishing.

Things Seen Along the Road

dry cracked swimming pools of mom and pop
motels alongside two-lane country roads,
proud hand-lettered signs proclaiming

porches of America backyards of America
sidewalks of America empty empty empty,
storefronts of America with notes on the door
“moved to the mall”

sunrise t’ai chi in Madison, Wisconsin,
lawyers waiting for the mail,
the late-again clerk, overqualified, underpaid, too young,
and too in love with Lake Mendota to ever leave

scrub-faced kids strolling grade school corridors
that gleam like seminary wood
between walls of crayola art and alphabets,
the teacher’s wide-eyed tales of other worlds

Dave and Mary Mason in their small town diner
handing out free cups of coffee and donuts
for a song and dance among empty tables
during the mid-morning lull

American Flyer little red wagons with fire hoses used
to shoot kegs across the town park lawn for charity,
little girls who prance and pray for blue
ribbons along the banks of the Ol’ Mississippi

laughing high schools festooned for
saturday afternoon football fantasies,
teams of well trained pom pom girls in cheery face,
back row boys dreaming of cartwheels

fresh-faced farm kids marching Main St. against drugs
while the principal spins peace pipe memories
the civics teacher lights his after dinner bong
and bones up on his amendments

rivers rivers rivers of uncompromising cars and trucks
reststops fuming with sweat and grease,
hawks of America over farmland fields
James Dean’s grave in flatland Indiana.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Thoreau is always right

A constant pleasure of going through the notebooks is finding quotes gleaned from readings. Occasionally, I'll post a few.
Finding quotes by Thoreau I'm reminded that as far as I'm concerned Thoreau is just about always right. And yes, as the photo indicates, Thoreau wrote poetry. This book is claimed to include "every available piece of original verse" that he composed. Should decide to acquire the book, be forewarned, he writest in the style of his time.

Here are a few lines from Henry David Thoreau--none are from the poems.

"Our life is frittered away by detail."

"Those services which the community will most readily pay for, it is most disagreeable to render. You are paid for being something less than a man."

"Read not the times. Read the eternities."

"The community has no bribe that will tempt a wise man."

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

At the Viet Nam Veterans Memorial

There are slow spots in going through the old notebooks, but then, occasionally, I find something I'm really glad is there. Although I was at the dedication of the Viet Nam Memorial in DC, I took pictures that day. I guess I was so preoccupied with taking pictures that I wrote nothing in the notebook that day. Not long after the dedication I was back down at the memorial and here's what I experienced.

6/5/83--Viet Nam Memorial
It's a balmy June day in 1983. Streams of tourists in bright colored summer clothes contrast with the somber black marble of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial--a group queus up by the big book to look for names and where they are located. The clothes are gay and bright but the mood is appropriate. A dozen or so people are gathered around a wreath leaned against the wall with a page long hand-written letter to someone named Bill. A young teenage girl is reading aloud. The word love is mentioned often. The letter talks about each name representing twenty years, how each name was some mother's little boy "just as you were mine" and ends with "you're gone but definitely not forgotten. Love, Mom

At the end of a walkway under some trees two men hold flags--they are Nam vets, part of a vigil for POW-MIA (Prisoners of War-Missing in Action). A friendly guy in fatigues with a big black moustache says "Good morning people, won't you sign our petition." there are three petitions--one to congress, one to the president, one to Hanoi. There are 4 Million signatures on the one to Hanoi already. "You may have heard," he says, " a few days ago nine more bodies were sent back. we just want the rest of them."

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Going Through Old Notebooks

Well I have begun...pulled out an archive box of old poetry notebooks...oldest is dated October,'s both interesting and uninteresting...some good basic observations of winter by Lake Michigan...a bunch of lame ramblings...getting started I was...I think I'll actually do it...go through all the notebooks mining them for one-liners, quotes...short forgotten poems...fragments w/possibility for a way i don't like it as it's such a turning inward and looking backward...feels better looking outward at the world for poem ideas...then again...what's the point of keeping the notebooks if not to go back through them sometime...I think this is the time...and this note is being written when I've just gone through the most recent five years. Now I'm going back to the beginning and coming up through the years. There are two archive boxes of notebooks and a small 3rd box of the most recent. The photo is of box 1.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Poetry at Wheeler Hill, Summer 2008

One of the more interesting places to do a reading is Michael Czarnecki's farmstead. Folks bring their own chairs or sit on hay bales. Fortunately, the weather was beautiful. When I did this in 2007 it rained. That worked out ok because there were only about 8 people so we all fit on the porch.