Once there was a man who filmed his vacation.
He went flying down the river in his boat
with his video camera to his eye, making
a moving picture of the moving river
upon which his sleek boat moved swiftly
toward the end of his vacation. He showed
his vacation to his camera, which pictured it,
preserving it forever: the river, the trees,
the sky, the light, the bow of his rushing boat
behind which he stood with his camera
preserving his vacation even as he was having it
so that after he had had it he would still
have it. It would be there. With a flick
of a switch, there it would be. But he
would not be in it. He would never be in it.
You have been smiling across the table at your date
with a sesame seed stuck in your teeth.
You will gain sophistication, become accepted by
and retire in Puyallup.
In your next life you will be a teacher
and no one will ever call you by your first name.
After your next vacation you will come home
and discover that your neighbors have redecorated
in the style of Iowa trailer court.
If you feel like you’re getting old,
secretly plant zucchini in your neighbor’s flowerbeds.
Avoid people who iron their sheets
or roll their socks & underwear.
Painting and poetry and music will show us where we should
be going, not the senate or tv news.
The next thermos bottle you see will actually
be a listening device made in Korea.
All the people in this restaurant
are glad that they are not you.
“Philadelphia isn’t as bad as Philadelphians say it is.”
Paris in the Spring, Autumn in New York,
Singers pair a city with a season
As though it belonged to it all year long.
They should try to put a few more to work:
Trenton in winter needs a good reason;
Scranton in summer seems so very wrong.
How about Cincinnati in the spring?
Autumn in Passaic, or in Oakland?
Some cities just lack glamour and appeal,
And there is no point arguing the thing.
No one reads through stacks of brochures to spend
A honeymoon in Allentown. Let’s get real.
Most places on the map, you must believe,
No one wants to visit, only to leave.
By Jessica Hagedorn
i read your poem
over and over
in this landscape
the indigo sea
blue taffeta dress
is black as the sea
out my door
to the beach
where sleek white boats
under a full,
i am still
outside my window
my mother's ghost
in the long
i listen to the radio
every chance i get
of your city's
the color of honey and sand
verges on catastrophe
a constant preoccupation
with real estate
a calm horizon
oiled & gleaming
hair & skin
i read your poem
over and over
turning my head
from prying eyes
the low hum
of women singing
in another room
i switch stations
on the radio
turn up the volume
i almost touch
james brown "live at the apollo"
the smooth female d.j.
interrupts bo diddley
groaning "i'm a man"
it is a joke here
in this baby-blue resort
is a full-time hobby
is what everyone
claims to do
on each other's laps
licking the salt
off each other's skin
and i walk
of the portuguese fishermen
in the scorched trees
the bleak, blond dunes
that line the highway
in another city
i take your poem
line by line
it is a love letter
we wrote each other
some time ago
trying in vain to pinpoint
that first, easy
By Paul Engle
A beach of flesh above a beach of sand.
Tide-steady jaws tearing at food gone gritty
With shattered, golden granite of the land:
The sea-desiring people of the city.
She dives around them like a dolphin leaping
Over and under the fish-furious waves,
Past buried bellies and the sunburned sleeping,
Past papers where the world’s old madness raves.
Like something dragged by the delirious tide
She flings up to us out of breath and streaming
Glittering water down from neck and side.
She says, I’m tired, falls off to sleep, her head
Curled on my arm, smiles from her beach of dreaming
Narrow along the world’s wide sea of dread.