Friday, May 27, 2016

Why Thomas Wolfe and I Are Getting the Hell Out of Dodge

I wrote this shortly after a road trip I took to the Baltimore/ Washington DC area in 1987. It’s strange how the American Deep South creates some of the best artists and art, yet so many of us have to put it in the rear view mirror to make that art happen.

The scrub oaks on the rolling sand hills,
the pines greening the ancient sand dunes

fade into the bare white skeletons of 
trees I recognize as 
alien. The familiar flattens 

into the coastal plain of 
Northern states and those 
Northern states of mind 
where restless Southern boys,
aloof in strangeness, might

furiously reproduce 
the diseases of their souls
in the laboratory
of another world far more friendly
than where those viruses incubated.

a common ground to be
as uncommon as I like
as the aches I’ve 
carried with me become
the only familiarity
which threatens but soon 

will flounder and drown
in a depth of distance
my car easily conquers.

From the forthcoming collection Nymphomagic Electroshock and Other Middle-Aged Complaints.
Copyright © 1987, 2017 by Lawrence Roy Aiken.