The Bigger BIrdhouse
Pterodactyl Cupped in the Hands
8 Year Old Egg
The Blue Lobster
2 Writing Dreams
Just Before 6 A.M
Carrying a bag filled with letters,
the next book project, unpublished
correspondences of Kenneth Patchen
with Dylan Thomas, e.e. cummings,
Henry Miller and more. A goldmine!
Surprisingly, it’s my Ganesh statue
that gets x-rayed three times.
Flight from Akron to Detroit was smooth.
Waiting in Concourse C for the connecting
flight to Maine. Just looked in my bag
to make sure the papers are still there.
No movie spies replaced the contents
with newspaper. I am feeling tired
but suspect that’s a natural result of
airport travel, not a sleeping potion
administered by the flight attendant.
Sitting by the escalator, down comes
a hook on a silver line from above.
Sydney Greenstreet with a fishing pole.
After a two hour wait and more,
we are boarding the plane, along with
a fly in the open airplane door. Could it be
bugs are doing this regularly? Visiting
relatives the way we do, carrying tiny
suitcases and traveling to a new home?
Looking at the ground, Detroit is the end
result of the empire of cars, so what
a surprise northeast of the burnt city
big squares of green farms connected
by country roads with windmills
planted in all the corners.
The beautiful sight turns to
dreamy white clouds.
As we climb to 20,000 feet,
Rustle falls asleep next to me.
I hold my hand over his knee.
Clouds follow us right to ground.
Sleeping below the oak tree
all night rain and wind
acorns hitting the roof
Broken halves of seashells
mirrors filled with water
from the tide going out
Fallen off the elephant trunks
from these two oak trees in our yard
I’m filling a bag with acorns to take
back West. I’m going to plant them
all around my daily journeys, the way
I go to work and especially in the woods
along the bay where the sound and
smell of ocean will be familiar.
The Bigger Birdhouse
A white birdhouse
stacked four stories
bigger than their house
with the face of
A UFO lands , great rejoicing ,
the President and leaders gather
much flag waving, cameras and radios.
Can they share their advanced wisdom?
A speaker rises up out of the saucer
like a Japanese lantern swinging.
They have never seen such ignorance,
greed and savagery, they are appalled
by our governments and industries
killing such a beautiful planet.
Only a moment after that,
tanks start shooting.
We were at the old site of Shop N Save in Brunswick
which has since turned into a bigger grocery store,
waiting in line to pay for corn and other necessities.
I suggested Rosa and Rustle go check out the used
book shelf to see if there was anything good.
After I paid, I caught up with them there. It was
a row of worn, twisted paperbacks. Rosa spotted
an intriguing one though, Love’s Sweeter Secret,
featuring a blonde damsel and a guy with no shirt.
I guess I have my preconceptions about that
Romance genre and I started to tell her, then
I stopped myself but it was too late. She wanted
to know. So did her seven year old brother.
We were back in the car driving and I had to
make up one of those stories for them. I didn’t
want to, but they wouldn’t let me alone.
Etcetera Jones in her red convertible sports car
stops by the side of the road to help McLellan
Chamberlain. (His name came from street signs
posted along the way.) His car wouldn’t run,
he gratefully got in beside the woman with
the handkerchief over her hair, sunglasses
hiding her eyes. She refused to go out of her way
though, she took him with her to the beach.
Miss Jones startled him there, pulling off her
dress to reveal a bikini underneath. (Telling
the story was making me ill, but the kids
wouldn’t let up, they had to know more.)
Finally, Etcetera drove him to town, they were
starting to warm to each other. “You’re rich too?”
he asked. “Yes, very!” she replied. Later, McLellan
brings Etcetera flowers to thank her. She’s arguing
with her boyfriend, McLellan knocks him out with
a wrench. Very heroic. Etcetera tags along with
McLellan while he competes in a local whistling
contest. He wins. In her excitement, she kisses
him. A photo of the event appears in the newspaper.
Etcetera’s scorned, wounded ex-boyfriend sees it
and swears revenge. Etcetera and McLellan have
a date at The Proposing Centaur (Rustle named it.
The kids are loving the story, but by now I have a
headache, the road is going too slow.) Soon, McLellan
invites her to his island estate, which is actually a
museum mansion on a state park. How can he manage
to go on lying about his wealth and what will Etcetera’s
jilted and bandaged ex do? Who knows? The trip
from town was over. I had enough. Little did I know
the story wouldn’t go away that easily. Two days later,
we were back at the grocery, Rosa tagging along,
bumping into me as we neared the bookshelf.
The paperback was still there. It was 50 cents.
I paid at the Customer Service counter. She was
already reading it as we made one last stop in town
at the post office, parking next to a little red
Austin Healey sports car convertible. Etcetera Jones
was very real and on our trail.
We went across water to visit Perry’s House.
Of course I checked out the old bookshelves.
I just had a feeling I would find Charlie Chan
and sure enough, beside a narwhale tusk,
there’s The Black Camel. Also other books
with great titles: The Wonder Book of Light,
True Blue, and The King of the Air.
I tried fishing for the first time in years.
Tide was coming in, breezy blue water.
Casting, caught nothing but seaweed or eel grass
until finally the surface rippled as the hook was
breaking. A school of little mackerel followed it in
like laundry flapping around the line. I caught one
briefly but it was too small and fell off.
Pterodactyl Cupped in the Hands
With one full day of vacation left, I have to say
I am tired of different beds, wearing the same clothes,
shrieking younger cousins, all the family drama,
I’m ready to go home. I’m just not looking forward
to the flying. This time we have three airports, plus
a three hour layover in Baltimore. It seems that
travel by air has gone back in time to the 1920s.
(Or is it the wars that make all this juggling across
the country?) We have the most sophisticated
flight deck locked behind a barred metal door.
After all the flying is done and we’ve taken a taxi
to our car, I’ve been told it might have a flat tire.
At midnight, I’ll have to figure out how to fix that
so we can make the hour and a half drive North
to Bellingham. All that is suspended in the air,
waiting for us to happen tomorrow.
8 Year Old Egg
Humpty Dumpty fell off the swing.
There he sits, legs sticking out in front,
his face flushed red, pouting with his hand
on his bumped head.
The Blue Lobster
Everyone wanted to get lobsters for supper,
except for me, I was just along for the ride.
We got to the wharf and they took us
down to the end where they kept the pen
to show us the Blue Lobster. It was even
mentioned in the newspaper apparently.
We had not heard of it though. I mumbled
to my wife, maybe there was something
we could do to cheer it up. She laughed.
They keep it in its own cage like a prisoner.
Yes and here he is, taken out into daylight,
dripping water. The Blue Lobster is quite a
sight. Then they put it back and lock the lid.
Along the edges of the dock a school of those
little mackerel reappear, green and black
tiger stripes, they move like wind-up submarines.
2 Writing Dreams
Second night in Maine, I met Stephen King.
He was hopeful and told me to keep going.
Early this morning, I was in a coffee shop.
I read two stories of mine and returned to
my seat, there was a note left for me.
It was from someone named Indra.*
*Later, I looked this up in the dictionary.
Indra is the Hindu God of the air,
rain and thunder and also war.
Just Before 6 A.M
Thick foggy morning
only white to see
sound of lobster boats
crows and waves
seagulls and terns
drops of rain on roof
Not much to report on flight
from Maine to Baltimore.
Thinking about contacting
a fortune teller who can read
the mosquito bites on me
and reveal some mystery
in the pattern.
After landing in Maryland,
we ate lunch at a Chinese take-out.
I went looking for Poe in the airport.
I figured there would be a souvenir
since Edgar Allan Poe lived in Baltimore.
The football team is named the Ravens,
there are cups and shirts and hats of that,
but nothing in remembrance of Poe.
No pencil sharpeners, key chains, or
brass-plated poems. Surprisingly,
most of the souvenirs are presidential.
I bought a First Lady tea cup for Laura.
On the way back to our table, I saw a
soldier in camouflage. I asked him if
he was home now. He actually smiled
and said yes. I said, “Good.”
It’s too bad we can’t drop notes
down to the ground. I don’t know what
exactly, just random thoughts to be found
on playgrounds, or backyards, or parking lots.
Rattling bits of paper in trees.
When we landed in Milwaukee,
a mosquito came on the plane and
settled in business class.
While the plane was taxiing, I thought about
The Robot Poet. It’s introduced to the open mic
on Tuesday night in a café in town. It quickly
makes a reputation. Soon, it goes into the city
where it is met with critical response, some
people walk out on it, others champion it.
It’s even given a column in the local alternative
newspaper. How was it using language? Where
was it finding inspiration? Grabbing at words
seemingly by chance from the air.
Okay Patchen, here we go again,
the last leg of the journey home, Part 3,
that will take us out of the Midwest night,
four hours to Washington state.
Could it be I’m already forgetting the feeling
and my vow never to fly again? Mostly feeling
like Robert Ryan in an old boxing movie, being
pummeled but carrying on. Perhaps I should have
taken more notes, I did the best I could under
the circumstances. Even Basho with The Narrow Road
to the Deep North must have longed for more to say
or maybe no more than a nice rest under a kite
flying in a blue sunny sky.
Signals, parts 1-5
writing allen frost in ohio & maine
oak tree photos by allen
kite drawing by rustle