Archive for the ‘Route 66’ Category

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All Those Empty Chairs

September 3, 2012

Amusing that today has been dubbed “Empty Chair Day” — usurping Labor Day. Appropriate, I suppose, considering the mess we’re in now — but when I think of an empty chair this is what comes to mind:


The National Memorial for the Oklahoma City bombing. One empty chair for each lost soul. More chairs than than you would want to count; too, too many chairs. And small chairs, for the children. The most moving memorial I’ve been to yet. Everyone one of us should see it. I’ll step off my soap box now.

Another symbolic empty seat:

Vacated lifeguard stand, Honolulu, Hawaii. Rather nicely represents the end of summer, don’t you think?

And totally off topic, here’s a recent visitor to our backyard — a baby king snake. We left him alone, because he’ll eat rats, mice, rattlers and other critters that wander over our wall.


Hope your Fall is off to a great start — and speaking of babies, my baby is a young man now, off to college and all that that entails.

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Ghost Signs

January 15, 2012

There are some intriguing, faded, hand-painted signs around here — “ghost signs,” they’re called, as they’re only a thin version of their former, brightly-painted selves. There’s something melancholy and mysterious about them — who painted them, how long were they in business, who frequented those businesses, what happened to all of them since? And guess what: there’s a beautifully sad Zach Selwyn song pertaining to ghost signs. It’s what got me interested in the concept in the first place.

Dolly’s Market.

Storage — of what and for whom?

Hotel Lewis — where did all your visitors go?

A modern ghost / sign of the times.

Here’s the link to Mr. Selwyn’s gorgeous, doleful song, from his album of the same name. It’s about California, but if you’re in the right mood, it can be about anywhere.  Ghost Signs

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Dinosaurs on Route 66, and Godzilla’s Shadow

November 7, 2010

Once upon a roadtrip, we found the Rainbow Rock Shop in Holbrook, Arizona — guarded by ginormous cement dinosaurs. For personal use only! (as the sign on the fence says). Can’t imagine using them in any other way — except maybe in construction à la the Flintstones.


In a parking lot on that same trip, we saw this designated-smoking-area sign:

Looks like he means business. Wonder what the “no smoking” signs around there look like. Below is a poem about coming to rest, after long travels — after covering a great distance both geographically, and emotionally:

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In Another Life

I lay in the dry bed
of a river     watch the stars
swim like little fish     in the dawn lenticular
clouds converge     align with the cryptic
coordinates of my mind’s map     here
I am     a charm on a bracelet
here     the days are silver links
closed one by one
between my teeth

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And now, a reminder that we all dwell in the Shadow of Godzilla:

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Abandoned Places

July 17, 2010

All along Route 66 you’ll find abandoned places — everything from farmhouses to bars. People just walked away, leaving these structures behind. Maybe they haven’t been empty all that long, but nature moves in very quickly, reclaiming materials and space. Can’t help but wonder what happened to the people who left — who were they, what happened? Where did they go? It’s easy to see how people might believe in ghosts, looking at places like these.

Very picturesque, and poignant, in their own way.

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And this place below — the only bar/roadhouse around for miles, must have seen some rowdy times.

But not any more.  Here’s my poem for an abandoned bar:

night, friend*

night, friend
questions nothing       no one

neither drunken beast
nor melancholy woman

dreams deceive
and fortune is loath

to swear fidelity
to any manner of mercy

vulgar chance offers
a cup of  kindness

better take a sip
before the bar closes
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The decrepit barn below would be awfully creepy (it looks like it’s smiling! or worse, gasping), if it wasn’t for the industrial-looking set-up behind it.

We saw a couple of abandoned drive-ins; one was being used for a cattle grazing area — cows were dithering about, munching greenery between speaker posts, beneath the enormous, dilapidated movie screen. The one pictured below has no cows, so it’s even lonelier.

Here’s my interpretation of the lonesome essence of all these abandoned places:

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*First published in Poetry @ the River Annual Review, Vol I, Summer 2008

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Signs from the Heart (Land)

July 16, 2010

Fresh off the road from our excursion into America’s HeartLand.  Landscapes so lush and green! At least to my desert eye. Mucho amusing signage along the way, as well.  Here are some highway signs that caught my eye.

Can’t even begin to comment on this one, without being rude:

Speaking of stupid, we saw double-decker billboards from Oklahoma through Missouri and Iowa — not a pretty trend. I did like this one though:

Like Carlsbad Caverns, you start seeing signs for this attraction miles before you get close to it:

And now I’m sad:

You see something like that, and all you can say is, “Wow. just wow.” But I saved my favoritest highway signage for last:
Excellent advice, I’d say.

Now a bit of appropriate poetry, I think, for roadtripping — an excerpt from mah 3 part poem, In Dreams of Luggage:

the poet carries his own bag
packed with lumber,
lawsuits and untuned lyres

his vocabulary shimmies his thoughts
abandoned in the topy-turviest of tango dancing:
peacocks, pearls and pears

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Because You Never Know Where You’ll End Up

May 9, 2010

“Half the fun of the travel is the aesthetic of lostness.” —Ray Bradbury

“When was the Last Time You Slept in a Wigwam?” Actual sign outside the Wigwam Motel on Route 66 in Holbrook, AZ. We didn’t spend the night, but we did take pictures. Wish we’d gotten to see the inside of one of these ‘wams.

I swear,  Arizona has one of the bluest skies in all creation.
And now for something completely different:
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Plainsong

your        voice the tip of a knife tracing a line
from navel to sternum        your voice
the witchcraft binding the mischief
of self-sworn spells

your voice        the faint wail of pipes
wandering beneath the wind        your voice
the luminous soul spiraling
out of a dying kiss        your voice

reaching through the cage daring
to pet the rabid heart
your voice        the sigh of an angel sinking
one sword through two sinners        your voice

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(first appeared in Black Hammock Review, Spring 1999, No.8)

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Highway Diner: Winslow, Arizona

June 11, 2009

Highway Diner Winslow