Austin-New Orleans

The effort to write about this
and not be negative is considerable;
Following a visit to the same old argument
Of language and America’s lack of vocabulary;
I need to visit a simpler angle
Where beauty and awe make heart rates slow,
To focus on saving what’s left rather than
What has been taken away…

When someone first comes to America
The thoughts vary
So much, too much, so fast, too fast
The things we mistake for watermarks
Can be temples to them
Our machine has created an ideal
That the whole world translates
To fit their own dreams;
Either an answer to a nightmare
Or the enemy of a cause…

To think that people learn English
From repeated viewings of David Hasselhoff
Is truly strange, somewhat disturbing
And in a way, beautiful:
That the idea of America will always be
Better than it actually is
Because America is so much more to the world
Than a segment of a continent;
It’s a recording, it’s a product to buy, it’s a sunset
to ride off into, it’s persistence that borders on mental illness,
it’s having more pairs of shoes than you can wear in a week…

…I guess I didn’t do it after all…

I’m beginning to think that I will have to focus on nature,
Where I go when life becomes
not
worth
writing
about.

-my early memories of the coast of Maine
Cold salt water and crumbling asphalt
Wild blueberries and moss covered rocks
The rumor of an asparagus plant older than my great uncle
The sounds of the back shore, thunder on a sunny day;

-Massachusetts and more than 20 years of memories
Glacial ruts called hills, trees thick in summer, a blanket
Of green which never seems unpredictable until the explosion one week in Fall when everything but the correct adjectives can be seen;

-California and the odd fact that you can be in one place
And be an hour from the ocean, the city, the desert and
The snow covered mountains, a state with more twists
Than most countries;

-The Big Sky Country, where you can feel how small you really are;

-Alaska, the final frontier, wild and vast, where an ice cube sounds like A shotgun when dropped down the face of a glacier;

-Texas, heaven and hell, angels and miracles, a place
I turned my back on until I spent some quality time there, the cities,              The spaces in between, where I keep my heart;

-Hawaii, a necklace draped in a warm blue pool;

-Louisiana, the mystery, a wet coat that slows you down and fits real good, where that damn stream from Minnesota ends up and spreads out… I’ll say no more as James Lee Burke has said it all often and better;

This is just a list, an exercise, a changing of perspective
To put aside the disappointment of human nature which is not
Exclusively American but practiced with such verve and energy
By it’s inhabitants that it can be mistaken for a birthright…

…shit, I’m doing it again!

With freedom comes responsibility
And, as is the case, no warranty that anybody will be responsible,
It’s just expected and rarely ever rewarded.

America can not be defined in a word:
It is a thousand whispers said at one time
They may not agree: it doesn’t matter.
They are all right.