ROAD TRIP, LATE JULY, WESTERN PENNSYLVANIA
Green, green waves ahead
diminishing to blue over the northern horizon
exalted rises and shadowed valleys gradually made plain
to rolling hills and misted hollows
interstate unrolled as ribbon
around hill and following valley,
signs noting unseen destinations
bearing hopeful small town names:
little hamlets of Pennsylvania coal being crushed to diamonds,
glittering in the vales;
a gauze curtain of rain shower flows across hills
soaking opposite side of road
but the sun shines brightly ahead,
occasionally a sudden cluster of official orange obstructions
gives instructions to change directions
slowing pace to allow a close and careful study
of native plants along the roadside,
a stately brick farmhouse, a skull with empty windows, abandoned, its outbuildings only roofs in the tall grass
as if melting back into the earth from whence they were created;
then a curving exit that leaves the noise of four lanes behind a rise,
a sojourn on a quiet two-lane three-digit backroad,
once the lifeline before the interstate, now empty;
clusters of buildings at intersections, one traffic light flashing yellow,
old farms and equipment,
rusted industrial structures,
a field gone entirely to Queen Anne’s Lace,
some cows on a hillside,
and everywhere roadside stands
celebrate the first flush of mid-summer bounty;
collect loose change from pockets and floor of car
and with the dole,
buy fresh homegrown sweet corn to feed thy soul.
Poem © 2006, B. E. Kazmarski
In December, 2006, I submitted two of my poems on a section of the A Prairie Home Companion website entitled “Stories From Home/First Person” set up for submissions of writing about the place we feel most familiar. This poem was one of them, along with “Dogwoods”. I’m a long-time listener to PHC and reader of Garrison Keillor’s books as well as a daily listener to The Writer’s Almanac featuring news about writers and writing and of interest to writers as well as a poem, all compiled and read by Keillor himself.
I was astonished to find my poems were among the first chosen from apparently thousands, and so happy to be able to share them with a potential audience of so many similarly inclined writers and readers. My friend Maggie Forbes, executive director of the Andrew Carnegie Free Library & Music Hall, after learning of my publishing of those two poems, suggested I host a poetry reading as part of the facility’s annual offerings, and along with the reading to hang a show of my related art and photography. I owe her many thanks for encouraging me to present this combination of my visual and literary art, a first for me as I hosted five poetry readings, “Paths I Have Walked” and the art exhibit “Art of the Watershed”, from 2007 to 2011.
From the first four of these readings I self-published a slim book of poetry organized into the four readings, each of which had a seasonal theme. Read more about the poetry readings and the book on my website.
And I’m working on a few paintings from photos taken along the way on several road trips; when I get these done I will link to this post.