Wednesday, July 14, 2010

a steady rain of personal problems keeps me from blogging, or writing poetry, but doesn't keep me from doing other things and in some way widens my horizons. a recent trip to kansas allowed me to go find out how well i can still read license plates out on the open road where the population gets sparse and the car traffic gets more interesting. hot stifling weather back here in the lowlands makes me stay inside, where i collapse, exhausted, and start reading books to get away from everything else. as far as the personal stuff goes, my son is doing much better, while my wife's family is having trouble, but i like to keep this stuff off the blog pretty much, so i'll just tell about the trip.

there are a lot fewer license plates down here in lowland illinois, and through saint louis, but the number and variety increase as seventy gets rolling across columbia and through kansas city. new england states are pretty much nonexistent here, and i went the whole trip without seeing a single one, except maine, which i saw on both cars and trucks. maine and oklahoma are states for which truck plates are quite common, but the car plates are worth more (not that i'm keeping points) so i'll point them out if i see them. the southern states came in quite slowly; i never saw louisiana at all, which is rare. just west of saint louis the highway crosses the missouri river, at around saint charles and the earth city expressway, and right there the sky opened up with a deluge so intense that i thought it would wash the car right over the bank and down the river. my son was sound asleep and i seriously wondered if we would make it out to kansas, if it kept going like that, but we did; in kansas city we were able to cruise right through, at about 1 in the morning, the kansas city star's huge printing press lit up in a four or five-story building right near the highway. on the kansas side some poor guy had got pulled over for driving; trucks had been involved in an accident. in downtown lawrence the license plates really started rolling in; oregon, minnesota, you name it. they travel a lot in summer and they all seem to go through lawrence. what a pretty place...

back home i start teaching makeup classes and this fills the schedule right up; i barely notice that it's hot, stuffy, unbearable outside, while cold inside and difficult going back and forth, very difficult. another son likes driving around with windows open, and opens windows in the house also, which makes us mad because we're airconditioning the great outdoors. so that's ok, we're driving home, all windows open, when we come upon the mosquito truck, and i realize, no, that's not ok, but it's not ok even if we have the aircon. it's not ok, and we have to back up, or go the other way, or avoid that street entirely for a few hours. i've come to the point where i feel all nerve gas should be outlawed, and if wet grass brings the bugs, maybe wet grass should be outlawed, or we should at least encourage bushes and flowers, which of course would bring bees, but at least, from this, we'd get honey. the pesticides and nerve toxins that ravage the suburbs are by far the worst aspect of the place; i don't mind the quiet wide streets, lack of sidewalks, stars and "neighborhood watch" aspects. when you park your car on the grass, even a little bit, the police will remind you via note that "we don't do this" in this neighborhood, or in this town; they'd like us to stay on the street in a more orderly fashion. i was discussing with my son why i called it the ornament valley; he has taken to writing rap music, and recording it, on the garage band on the mac in the back room, as a kind of response to feeling, perhaps, that he has been in the suburbs too long. so maybe he has; maybe he can move out, and aircondition the great outdoors by himself. his raps are good though. i'm proud of him, and wouldn't mind making a few raps myself.

my poetry, however, has all but dried up; i can hardly bring myself to write even one. i told him about it, how you try to get a moment into a seventeen-syllable piece, and fit all this stuff in there, but i realized, not only have i written nada, but i even failed to publish it on the fourth, as i ordinarily would have; it just flew by, with me silent. stopped, also, visiting #haiku street, where there is a steady diet of seventeen-syllable; in a good mood, you can find what you like and get inspired, or emulate it. instead i occasionally go over to the bog, where i occasionally find my brother playing, competing very well with one old-time champion, oniondip, and a whole host of unfamiliar competitors. i'm quite lousy at the bog, but the twenty points or so that i can get in the allotted time are sometimes enough to put him over the top when we play as one team; the other night, we even beat oniondip...i have to say, i have to admire that oniondip, if only for his/her longevity and the fact that he/she operates entirely alone, and still manages to wipe out a crowded field. the question about these people is whether they are actually cheating, but i'll say right here: we aren't, and probably oniondip isn't either. you'd get tired of it much sooner, if you cheated.

come back, and the heat is pressing, it's choking, it's oppressive. go to the lake, park diagonal, and get down in the water and try not to sit still so the fish don't bite; watch the little ones who act like this kind of heat is just normal, and wish i'd summered out in minnesota, or kansas, or some place where you can at least walk outside and stay out there for a few minutes, at, say, some street corner. out here, you see someone just standing out on a street corner, you think, what are they, crazy? don't know enough to come in from the heat? or they're some kind of teenager, trying to prove some kind of point, or something? only point i want to prove is this: water's rising, under the missouri bridge; earth city signs all i can see from between the raindrops, and, i'll make it out there, and make it back. getting out from this heat is good for the spirit; you can see the sky, and breathe a little. it may be a little reactionary, teaching its evolution in the schools and all, but its very sparseness allows it, as a state, to encourage all that license-plate watching, and even though my eyes are beginning to lose some of the details (this trip, i though i saw a b.c. plate, but it had a plate-holder around it, so it wasn't very clear; in the end, i lost it)...ah, actually i lost a few of the details...in any case, you see the heart of the country. the thru-travelers, the vacationers, the exotics. ontario, north carolina, new mexico, montana - i tried not to lose them. it's a matter of interest, where these people are actually going, and why their cars are always so much better than ours...

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