by nate

Going along with Shawn's interest in procedure, as well as Mike's interest in why we write the way that we do, here's an explanation about the method of this, my "travelogue poem." If you'd just read it without explanation, just skip this paragraph. Anyway, the first section is obviously quite visual, and doesn't really need much explanation. The rest of the poem, however, is comprised of "Songs." The form of each Song was dictated by the outcome of a series of bowling games. The Song number is the number of the final score (Song #126 was my best game ever). The number of pins felled equals the number of words in each line. Anytime there was a spare, I included the word "spare," or some sonic equivalent. It may help to think of these Songs (I'm tempted to call them "Gumbo Sonnets") as a combination of the economic, quasi-chance-generated poetics of Shawn and the homophonic punnery of Mike. See for yourself.

comments by:
jon dimarco (who was on this trip)

			Rte 81

		fog darkish rain
		 streak mudflaps
		 lights  reflected
		  blurry tollbooth
		   hum windshield
		    pendulum swish
		     floorboard slick
		      wind accelerate
		       sonny rollins on
		        rolling on bridge
		         cigarette icy and
		          dome light route
		          center line flash
		          dotted state lines
		          pine stump cross
		          road radio towers
		         reddish diner eat
		        dashboard glows
		        three bags full on
		       hancock street or
		      walker street and
		     swerve cat dexter
		    sausage this state
		   gravy don't have
		  a single even city
		 average antietam
		 intelligence pass
		on the right turns
		 pass signal other
		 sign welcome to
		 key west virginia
		  shoulder garbage
		   huddle egg house
		   diesel coffee refill
		    hours ago octane
		     little debbies hot
		      fries & powerade
		       still the pouring
		        seat belts dangle
		         rain bumping if
		          tennessee whisk
		          ing past rest stop
		           next for miles on
		           root beer miles en
			    route eighty-one
		 	     stretch far sleeps
			     from jersey city
			     carlisle or tokyo
		 	     cabin smoke the
		 	    fever every city
		           has a pine street
		          map intersection
		         infinite junction
		        louisiana but first
		       alabama the kettle
		      whistle speed over
		      limit fuelstop over
		      speedometer blink
		       tired hallucinates
		         air rushing past
		          open wind rush
		           ing past an open
		           wind rushing air
		            past open window
		            past rushing into
			    present dawning
		           an arrange meant
		          also approaching

Song #94
a city colder than her last kiss goodbye a poet who writes in fierce pursuit of angles a bayou song the scent of sugar a sense that anger fades like a photograph sparing none have hey do quarter man you hey man sorry been days since I even tried to smile a city colder than midnight colder than place where the bars stay open where visitors are welcome but enter at their own risk St. Louis Cemetery no. 2, established 1823
Song #110
Hippie Johnny swings into the sugar bowl on chef menteur drive, a circadian spare tire juju boogie rhythm and although he has forgotten how to keep score he knows his height and his shoe size and has vague impressions of this place this big easy crescent city this music pouring into the streets, filling the pavement cracks the staccato crash of the pins at contact he had dreams of a much more dramatic loneliness only the crash of the pins only his voice
Song #126
bourbon street shadow something tactile with all my spare time all extra frames will be charged will frames all be charged extra I never know where to start a poem vision can be merely an attempt to make things whole tumbling down the aisle a sardonic caricature of the hot five Louisiana swamp blues pool strike hustler jive talk, Marlboro ceiling fan brush stroke stranger's collateral kiss speaking this foreign, furtive tongue do you know what it means to miss New Orleans the 6th ward dirty dozen in Jackson Square
Song #113
four on the floor but who's keeping score spare us the tire aid saintly grease monkey blues please bartender midriff hip swivel, fifteen early morning postcards forty-six dollars for a painful lesson in street smarts central grocery mufuletta, sausage & rabbit jambalaya one mint julep I want to see the process the verbal spare change a synapse snaps in time rhythm pulsating din, a ricochet verb tense scene unfolds on the cusp, pair of dice, laws broken glints of glass on the cobbled street
Song #109 pallid full moon sidecar tracks aligned an orbit forms an arc, a texture a landscape fingers running along a bethlehem wrought-iron hand rail drumming rudimental blue notes, dark as the tide something oscillating slowly, stirring the gravy train something heavy dream in which the river has frozen solid in which she moves through the shadows, calling my name
Song #111
just like that, one poem runs into another word follows word like a spare string of beads forgotten swept aside like so many tattered pins still life: woman alone at table with tears to spare just another french quarter daydream just another clever turn of phrase, another street musician another horse-drawn tourist trap, another bowling allegory: always one pin standing, union on strike, strong-arm tactics, Armstrong pyrotechnics, percolating phrases in a stew pot clock strikes a minor third, crawfish congregate by the pound and who's to say when it's finally time to stop?
From: "Jonathan DiMarco" Hey there, Nate. Goin' off to Cleveland for a bit, a little windy city blanketed by Lake Erie's grimy currents. Read your poem up and down, tried side-to-side, too. Here's my brain on your poem: Many questions, as always. If words evolved in direct response to humanity's needs, then it only proves us lost after thousands of years, don't it though? A powerful kick forces your words to stream down the page, images swirling together like the fog in some tourist trap's Hurricane. If the road doesn't end, who do you blame, then? Eisenhower and his visions of endless asphalt, quiet ambition disguised as inalienable rights; maybe a thousand different scapegoats, starting with God and ending with yet another pre-fabricated highway monument. Perhaps you're right. Even when the pressure of that pulse is at its strongest, it never slides into a steady rhythm. We hear the whine of stripped gears trying to connect, grinding together to find a few teeth that aren't yet blunted. And, what happens when steel does push on steel and we shift into a single revolution? It could just be a passing glance of a kiss, a small memory that fades and bloats as one. It's the illusion of movement that fools us - a comfortable whirring sound, a streaming note that is pleasing to hear but dangerous to study. If security cannot be earned, then what can be? well, that's what I thought after reading it, so you can consider it my little critique. Hope I didn't overstep my boundaries there, but at 3:00 in the morning I let my old semi-writer persona out of the closet. Maybe it's a little rusty :) - jon