Cover image from Vacationland
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This book of poetry involves many of the same characters as the author's book of short stories. Recommended by Lucia Silva of Portrait of a Bookstore in Studio City, Calif., the poems have the same driving force and the same themes of snow and coldness as the stories. More abstract than the stories, the poems read like little aural slices of them.
This place, this bearer of the chilly winter burst,
the white-out everywhere and flurry,
this blizzard with a lowercase b,
far from commercial in its constancy,
its threat, impact, and our recovery:
always from it. We are always re-shoveling
out the driveways and panking down the snow
or breaking up the ice with handmade iron spears
or spokes wrested from bikes that have succumbed
at last to rust. This is my vacationland, my very own
Misery Bay, my dredge, my lighthouses, my vanishing
animal tracks in snow. Everyone who is not from here
is not from here, and that is all there is to say.
Everyone from here is still from here
regardless of where they are or where they end.
White light filtering through snow like dust.
There is always light coming down
like a donation from Goda little perk
to get us through the winter upon us.
This light lights up our faces, lights up the faces
of the frozen dead as seen on TV from Canada.
This vacationland, this motel open year-round,
is now a Best Western and that is good, I guess.
This vacationland, this Michigan,
my Michigan, is no destination, no getaway
for us, those who are always from.
We have no destinations. We have no way
to get away from her, from here, to get away
from romantic winter getaways and those
who’ve come to get away from dull bombs of city lives.
We cannot get away from from and from the doldrum
winter silent burn. We might as well be stone agates,
mottled trifles, appearing periodically on the beach
to be taken home, to be put with other pretty rocks
and bits of lake glass in jars. We are meant for your mantel
and for the light that will find us there.
We might as well be the kind of rock
that passes for rock on the radio up here,
meaning Foreigner and Journey and nothing
that could be ever meaningful again
because it has been subsumed by soft-rock
crap-rock, classic-rock, by radio, by frequency modulated
energy in air, by the tyranny
of awful playlists and s***ty DJs
and no hope of getting a decent song
played for us to be indifferent to at prom.
We are what is left. We are drift.
I guess this is a sort of manifesto.
From the book Vacationland by Ander Monson. Copyright (C) 2005 by Ander Monson. Reprinted by permission of Tupelo Press. All rights reserved.