Saturday, September 17, 2011

signals, pt. 5

Airport Diary

Oak Tree


Transplanting Elephants

The Bigger BIrdhouse

The Patriot

Sci-Fi Theatre

Etcetera Jones

Eagle Island


Pterodactyl Cupped in the Hands

8 Year Old Egg

The Blue Lobster

2 Writing Dreams

Just Before 6 A.M

Airport Diary


Airport Diary


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the next book project, unpublished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.

Oak Tree

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

Transplanting Elephants

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

The Patriot

A seagull

with the face of

George Washington

Sci-Fi Theatre

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.

Etcetera Jones

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.


Eagle Island

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

Airport Diary


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.


40,000 feet

Signals, parts 1-5

writing allen frost in ohio & maine

august 2011

oak tree photos by allen

kite drawing by rustle

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