Other Stuff

138 Haiku for Ahm-Ree-Kah

Said Whitman one time:
“America: that great poem.”
The greatest, even.

In this tradition,
let me present most humbly
a Whitman’s sampler.

Only with fewer
Cashew Clusters™ and slightly
more facetiousness.

Los Angeles

Who has ever seen
such strong light hitting green hills?
And highways, highways.

A smiling man in
a green and white food truck
hands me three tacos.

Golden, delicious,
they go well with the soda
people keep on hand.

Big Sur

Mountains roll sharply
into angry green-white surf.
Bridges span chasms.

Where did Kerouac
sleep, as a local? Was it
in this log cabin?

Likely not. This spot
is muddy, expensive, and
less than fully Zen.

Cannery Row

Rattlesnakes, dusty-
eyed and serene, fill my thoughts
of this dream-like place.

In reality,
Mac & co have moved on. The
hotel looks nice, though.

Steinbeck and Ricketts:
dudes sharing their many loves.
Got to commend that.

I think I buy this
book for people because it
is short and punchy.

In that it punches
the reader in the heart with
warm contemplations.

Look, just go buy a
copy for yourself. Hell, send
me your damn address.

San Francisco

Orange steel stretches
impossibly across churn
and wash of green salt.

How could you not love
the city of Al Ginsberg?
Rain falls in warm streets.

I run up to the
big red radio tower.
A glorious view.

This one other dude
was running close behind me.
I felt I knew him.

Amtrak: San Francisco to Chicago

The furnishings may
be dated, but the burgers?
Salty. Prepared weekly.

Who cares? This train goes
through snowy mountains, deserts,
and seven (eight?) states.

The viewing car is
full of folks taking it in
with icy cold drinks.

Everyone wants
to talk at lunch. Wrestling, birds,
democracy, Trump.

Good thing every
one of these passengers is
well over sixty.

Plenty of time to
gather esoteric facts
for polite strangers.

There’s a kindness,
a lulling passivity
of wheels over tracks.

We share a “roomette”.
Lordy, to be paid to come
up with product names.

Seventy hours on
the train. I could have stayed on
no problem at all.

Chicago

Where can we find Jeff
Tweedy? I guess I thought he
would just be around.

Those cake stand towers
are right outside our hotel.
Black against blue sky.

The freezing wind lifts
from Lake Michigan like a
swift kick in the teeth.

The lines in the grey
city stay sharp as night falls
over the water.

In the donut shop
a young kid clutches pastry
tight in his fingers.

If we lived here I’d
likely revert back to him.
They were that damn good.

“Fire Cakes”. Hell of a
name for sugar, pastry, cream.
Better than DD.

Detroit

I keep a lookout
for ambiguous danger,
but I need not fret.

Once shrines to commerce,
now dusty car garages.
I guess it happens.

Some dude is buying
up city blocks and hiring
his own police force.

How do locals feel?
Is the cash grab members-only?
Who is invited?

Our Uber driver
has a kind face. He tutors
math on Monday nights.

He drives us to Grosse
Pointe. “Old-school rich Detroiters.”
He knows a few souls.

A bored waiter feeds
us some gourmet duck fried rice.
We talk past closing.

New York City (Vol. 1)

Hello again, dear friend.
I see your street vendors are
still hustling dosas.

We walk in Central
Park under light snow. Who keeps
knitting dog sweaters?

Bowling, falafel,
Animal Collective, beers.
Sleepy subway home.

Montreal

We walk a mastiff
cross named Mischa. The sidewalk
salt hurts her paw pads.

The temperature?
Negative butthole degrees.
Still kids play hockey.

Poutine, coffee, sleep.
When wearing two coats
just isn’t enough.

Boston

A guy selling ham
sandwiches knows about home.
“Mate! Bro!”, he exclaims.

We walk the brick lane
of Paul Revere’s freedom trail
to get cannoli.

Can one highway off-
ramp cleave itself into four?
In Boston, it might.

Brattleboro, Vt.

Sweet land of Bernie!
Syrup, pie, cider, pecans.
Anarchist bookstores.

We find a brewery
serving solely sour brews with
faux-Catholic names.

“The Angry Bishop.”
“Cardinal’s Peach Party Ale.”
You get the idea.

Who knew a maple
latte could actually
be good? Fuck Starbucks™.

Our dear friends have a
small human baby! We read
Hairy MacLary.

Boston (again)

So much brotherhood
present tonight at the men’s
candlestick bowling.

They let Dianny
rent shoes, but keep an eye out
for any girl stuff.

Philadelphia

City of the Roots!
Of Federal Fried Chicken!
Of Kurt Vile’s soft drawl!

Isaiah Zagar.
His name is colour, movement;
a poem in itself.

We visit all the
historical stuff. Highlight?
Hot cheese steaks. No shame.

Washington D.C.

We stand hemmed in with
a million other people.
And yet, no ruckus.

Except the ruckus
of a giant yarn uterus.
That’s dedication.

On the bus homeward
passengers doze against each
other, smiling, spent.

Baltimore

Four-storey spiral
shark tank. Kindly swim clockwise,
or you’ll be gnawed at.

Aquarium, then
Shake Shack™. Penguins, tortoises,
wee sloth family.

They have these fishes
that aim spit at bugs, knocking
them into the stream.

Our Uber driver
is a chicken connoisseur.
He suggests Popeye’s.

Our burgers make him
peckish. We offer to share.
He laughs. He’s all good.

We spend the morning
with Bloody Marys and some
crab cake Benedict.

And the afternoon
sharing cheesecake, fudge blocks, and
enjoying Face / Off.

Blue Ridge Parkway

It is my birthday.
And our anniversary.
Waffle House™ it is.

Two lovely old chaps
man the lonely tourism
centre. It’s winter.

We’re likely the sole
visitors for the day. They
seem just fine with that.

The long drive rewards
us with thick stands of fir trees
dripping with winter.

A recreated
length of train tracks shows us where
commerce once began.

Are the bears sleeping?
Unclear. Better keep any
Snyder’s™ in the car.

We come upon an
abandoned farm house. Trees grow
clear through the iron roof.

Grizzled red cattle
stand in the shade of an old
leaning wooden barn.

Dianny takes a
bunch of photos. I prepare
myself for locals.

The parkway sometimes
seems to run itself purely
into the blue sky.

The precise hue of
the blue hills evades capture
in these meagre words.

Suffice to tell you:
the breath quickens, the heart swells,
and everything stops.

Asheville

We wind up stopping
in Asheville. They have a sweet
pinball museum.

Murakami would
thoroughly lose his shit with
the range of machines.

We eat salty fried
green tomatoes, cheese grits, and
Madras chilli fries.

Nashville

Yo La Tengo are
fans of Prince’s Hot Chicken.
Take their word for it.

Did you ever eat
chicken so hot you had to
avoid touching…parts?

Trust me, dearest friends.
Do not mess about with these
rocks of pure hellspice.

The old Drake Hotel.
“Stay where the stars stay!” In the
seventies, perhaps.

We meet a couple
from Carolina outside
the Bluebird Café.

They have one ticket
between them. She goes in. He
peers through the glass door.

We continue to
eat the kind of barbeque
one might brag about.

Charleston

A sign outside a
bar proclaims the presence of
Bill Murray. Cheap trick.

Doesn’t stop us from
pulling off the road in a
cloud of gravel dust.

What a pair of chumps.
We practice our lines in case
he needs two more friends.

An anti-climax,
but we still enjoy foaming
ale (and more pinball).

Our BNB host
has framed pictures of Xena,
Warrior Princess.

She is thrilled to hear
where we’re from. Less thrilled to hear
we don’t know Lucy.

Savannah

Tickets for Moonlight.
Two other people in the
cinema. Both leave.

More great barbeque.
Cornbread, sticky ribs, collards.
One meal for the day.

St. Augustine

A diamond-shaped stone
fortress keeps the harbour safe
from the English hordes.

Portly volunteers
fire the neutered guns hourly
just to scare tourists.

Orlando

Okay, we did it.
We went to Universal™.
We have few regrets.

Di got to pretend
to be a wizard for a
time. Wand included.

Turns out Butter Beer
is a kind of ginger fizz
with marshmallow foam.

My younger stomach
was far better at dealing
with roller coasters.

Still, I ride them all.
Because I am a tightwad.
And also, reals tough.

Two days of this stuff
is enough for me to crave
a quiet darkened room.

Miami

Will Smith was correct.
Miami certainly does
bring the heat, for real.

We sneak in to some
hotel lounge chairs and disguise
ourselves as ballers.

No one is convinced,
but the waiters humour us.
I get lobster burnt.

I get to practice
my toddler-grade español
with real life toddlers.

Donde es Tomas?
El es aqui! El es muy
fuerte, y tonto!

Es peligroso
para tocar los…raccoons…
(I don’t know “raccoons”).

New Orleans

There is a riot
of big band horns lifting through
the hot fragrant air.

Carry your open
drink anywhere you like, friend.
Just be nice, or leave.

We rent bicycles
and spend long warm afternoons
avoiding pot holes.

A boisterous young dude
yells to us through a broken
window as we pass.

Stay off Bourbon Street.
It’s like Courtenay Place, but
somehow even worse.

We stumble upon
an impossibly raucous
Mardi Gras parade.

One float shows paper
mache Putin gleefully
rogering Donald.

Another Donald
is roped above a sharp-toothed
sarlacc vagina.

Elsewhere, Donalds
endure a colourful range
of brutal torture.

All of the craft stores
must have sold out of his shade
of neon orange.

The vile bloat of his
maniac features seems a
popular float choice.

Just not popular
enough for the popular
vote. Can’t help myself.

Our cab driver is
most delighted to hear us
use the term “had beef”.

He tells us he has
always wanted to travel
to Australia.

New York City (Vol. 2)

NYC round two!
It’s so nice to be back in
your cathedral streets.

We create habits:
Morning run, bagel, coffee,
then museums.

A couple of films,
a trip to Katz’s deli for
pastrami on rye.

An afternoon in
Bushwick, fossicking about
in the vintage aisles.

Time is running out
in a nice way. Three months is
likely sufficient.

Last day. JFK.
John Mayer sings with great breath
in duty-free aisles.

A table of young
Russians pick hot pineapple
from pizza slices.

Soon I will not speak
the language. I think I was
alright at charades.

Thank you, Ahm-Ree-Kah.
Your people have been a trip.
All the best with Trump.

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