Cross-country trip – Asheville, NC

No doubt about it, if we were to live somewhere in the south, it would be here in Asheville. This beautiful little town completely blows away any pre-conceptions about good ole dixieland. It has thriving alternative subcultures, a great natural foods co-op, three (that’s 3) left-leaning alternative newspapers, and the list of progressive organizations is twice as long as the one in the Portland Alliance. It has its faults also –it’s pretty white and there is a bit of a new age, yuppie tourist, self-concious hipness about it, but that exists in Portland also.

The train trip through the Rocky Mountains was totally gorgeous, as one might expect. The entire journey was fairly uneventful except for a few interesting encounters with fellow passengers. After two miserable nights in coach class, we were ready for a break. We arrived in Chicago just in time to get soaked by a doozy of a midwest thunderstorm. Ducking into a local BigBucks Coffee, I was served a latte with almost no coffee in it. The restroom seemed to be permanently occupied, so we headed back to the station and waited for our connecting train to New York, which turned out to be 90 minutes late. Turns out a heater element in the sleeping car was on the fritz, and they didn’t have a replacement.

So, about 9pm, we were on our way to another shitty night on the train. Despite the fact that it is an overnight run, our train, the Lakeshore Limited, didn’t even have leg rests which raised all the way up, forcing us to sleep in a very awkward upright position. I still don’t have all of the kinks worked out of my neck.

Of course, Amtrak has been starved for years by the Federal Government, so it is no wonder that it’s equipment is outdated and falling apart. With further cuts on the horizon, the U.S. is likely to be without a rail system at all, just at the time we really need one.

We arrived at Rochester, NY on Thursday morning, and picked up our rental car. We headed south in the direction of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. We had lunch in Elmira, which is a nice little town in southern New York. It was the home of Mark Twain and his wife in their latter years. In more recent times it is famous as the city with a Green Party mayor who defied the courts by marrying gay couples.

Onward through Pennsylvania, we followed the Susquehana River, ending up spending the night in a truckers’ motel in Tunkhannock. Not the nice comfie beds we were hoping for. Not even a deadbolt of the door, which had obviously been kicked in at one time. It was cheap though.

We arrived in Bethlehem mid-morning. A very picturesque old town, settled by the Moravians in the 1740’s. The Moravian’s are one of the subjects of our research, and they have a good museum and bookstore. Many of the original buildings are intact and still in use by the modern Moravians.

At the time of the settlement of Bethlehem, the Moravians (or Unitas Fratum — Unity of the Brethren) lived in a communal structure which had an extraordinary degree of freedom and responsibility for women, and a very open attitude toward the world at large. The commune had a democratic structure, and was extremely successful, with a large number of enterprises. They also believed in universal education, and produced highly regarded works of music and art.

We missed most of the major rain, but the rivers between PA and VA were clearly flooding. Running muddy, roiling, over their banks.

We spent the night in Harrisonburg, VA, which seemed surprisingly liberal. There is a Mennonite University there. On to Waynesboro and the Blue Ridge Parkway. A beautiful drive with gorgeous views down both sides. The leaves are not out yet here, so the deciduous trees are still a bit stark. After driving about 70 miles in a major wind storm, we left the parkway near Natural Bridge, VA. Somewhere along the way we emerged from under the cloud cover, and it has been sunny since. Today the winds have calmed down, and it is really beautiful here.

Here we are in Marilyn Johnston’s favorite bookstore, Malaprops. The sun is flowing in through the window and the trees are just showing new leaf. Tiny bright green bits at the tips of their most delicate branches. The store has has an excellent display of local poets. Numerous chapbooks and some really fine work. There seems to be a trend toward CD/chapbook combo. Some are just CD. That makes it difficult to decide if you want to get it unless you know the person’s work and the reader might not be so good at oral presentation. The combo is better.

Cross-country trip – Harrisonburg, VA

The train trip through the Rocky Mountains was totally gorgeous, as one might expect. The entire journey was fairly uneventful except for a few interesting encounters with fellow passengers. After two miserable nights in coach class, we were ready for a break. We arrived in Chicago just in time to get soaked by a doozy of a midwest thunderstorm. Ducking into a local BigBucks Coffee, I was served a latte with almost no coffee in it. The restroom seemed to be permanently occupied, so we headed back to the station and waited for our connecting train to New York, which turned out to be 90 minutes late. Turns out a heater element in the sleeping car was on the fritz, and they didn’t have a replacement.

So, about 9pm, we were on our way to another shitty night on the train. Despite the fact that it is an overnight run, our train, the Lakeshore Limited, didn’t even have leg rests which raised all the way up, forcing us to sleep in a very awkward upright position. I still don’t have all of the kinks worked out of my neck.

Of course, Amtrak has been starved for years by the Federal Government, so it is no wonder that it’s equipment is outdated and falling apart. With further cuts on the horizon, the U.S. is likely to be without a rail system at all, just at the time we really need one.

We arrived at Rochester, NY on Thursday morning, and picked up our rental car. We headed south in the direction of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. We had lunch in Elmira, which is a nice little town in southern New York. It was the home of Mark Twain and his wife in their latter years. In more recent times it is famous as the city with a Green Party mayor who defied the courts by marrying gay couples.

Onward through Pennsylvania, we followed the Susquehana River, ending up spending the night in a truckers’ motel in Tunkhannock. Not the nice comfie beds we were hoping for. Not even a deadbolt of the door, which had obviously been kicked in at one time. It was cheap though.

We arrived in Bethlehem mid-morning. A very picturesque old town, settled by the Moravians in the 1740’s. The Moravian’s are one of the subjects of our research, and they have a good museum and bookstore. Many of the original buildings are intact and still in use by the modern Moravians.

At the time of the settlement of Bethlehem, the Moravians (or Unitas Fratum — Unity of the Brethren) lived in a communal structure which had an extraordinary degree of freedom and responsibility for women, and a very open attitude toward the world at large. The commune had a democratic structure, and was extremely successful, with a large number of enterprises. They also believed in universal education, and produced highly regarded works of music and art.

silence is permitted

may i have your attention, please!
due to considerations of homeland security
        we must advise you
of new regulations for this establishment.
aloud is not permitted
silence is allowed
you are allowed to ask questions
but aloud is not an option
silence is permitted provided
you apply to the proper authority
to clarify, aloud is not permitted,
that means you, tonto,
        no indians aloud
i must stress this point
aloud is not permitted
        but
                i repeat
you may apply to be silent
the permit is freely available
        to all loyal citizens
it is our view that
in most cases
        a good citizen
                is a silent citizen
you are allowed to question authority
                but
        except under interrogation
        aloud is not permitted
you have the right to remain silent
but failure to cite the fifth amendment
may result in immediate imprisonment
if you are an enemy of the state
your permit to remain silent will be denied
you have the right to appeal this decision
you have the right to protest the appeal
you may appeal to your god
you may appeal to your interrogator
if you are stupid that is your right
however, in most cases
for the vast majority
of law-abiding americans
        rest assured
we will protect your rights
as long as you are not foolish enough
                to use them
        i repeat
silence is allowed
but aloud is not permitted
thank you for your attention.

© 2005, Duane Poncy

street of dreams

I am walking in the wilderness
the moon disappears into shadow
above the rooftops owl
        screeching
carries away a hapless soul
my spirit guide says beware
beats his wings
against the side of his cage
my spirit guide is a small yellow bird
I send ahead of me into the mine

in the dreamworld i am walking
down a street called the future
the houses on this street are bubbles
like the universe —only collapsing
high on a hill other houses rise
like the carbonation in champagne
        or coca cola
one by one they burst in thin air
leaving a faint, putrid odor
my bird sings beware beware
as owl carries away one more soul

and now i am walking down another street
this street named the past
is filled with small shops
which sell things we no longer use
the shopkeepers have sad eyes
as they turn the keys in their locks
go home to their shrinking bubbles
        owl is screeching
i continue walking
even though my canary is silent

i am walking down yet another street
with my dead canary
there is no street sign
but i know this street
i know the name of this street
it is filled with the dead and dying
garbage piled in the alleys
where blue smog hangs
over oily blacktop
it is the street where i live
but i am not yet ready to go home
i am not ready to face
the crimes i have committed
i will choose the wilderness
i prefer exile to waking

i am walking down another street
        in another country
and stone-faced soldiers
stand guard on every corner
the owls are screaming
a brown-skinned boy
sits on the broken concrete curb
ditsenvsvi hena he says
        you go home
there is nothing here you can do
he spits in the gutter
in the distance a baby cries
the owls, the owls scream

i am in a car
careening down the highway
the radio spitting hatred
spitting blue smoke exhaust
i am almost there
i am almost
at the street with no name
i am lying in my bed
a baby cries feed me
a baby cries wake up and feed me

i have no choice now
but to face the waiting mirror

© 2005 by Duane Poncy

i dreamed i was on a boat

Once I dreamed I was on a boat in the middle of a wide river, floating toward the sea. My boat was a very small boat, nothing more than a raft, really. I felt overwhelmed. Sometimes the river became so expansive, or the fog so thick, that I couldn’t see the bank. I traveled along so slowly that it felt like I wasn’t moving at all. At other times, the river grabbed me, and pulled me into the rapids. My tiny boat would lurch and sway and be swallowed by the violence of the current, then heaved back up like an indigestible meal.

Every now and then along the way, I could see a smaller stream emptying its waters into this great river, and along each of these tributaries was something almost recognizable –a town, or a farm, or someone fishing. Once I saw a familiar face of an old man chopping wood. I willed myself nearly close enough to look him in the eye. Who are you old man? I asked. As the current took my little boat and yanked me away, I heard him say: I am your ancestor. Have they not told you of me?

fundamentalisms

Whether of the left, right or center, ideological absolutists (purists, fundamentalists, whatever you want to call them), have a few things in common. Among these is an intolerance which is inconsistant with democracy. There is One Truth, and whoever deviates is either the devil, or on the road to hell. You’re either with us or against us, love it or leave. Fundis of the left are no different in this respect, than fundis of the right.

My favorite site to explore the fundis is Portland Indymedia. While Indymedia is a great site to find out what about left happenings in the community, and occasionally even breaks an important story, its open publishing forum is a magnet for fundis of all stripes.

Here are some of the fundamentalist threads you can find there:

Anti-Nader Democrats: these folks are narrow-minded anti-democrats who believe that the DP owns the vote of anyone who calls themselves Progressive. These bigots now control the Multnomah County Democratic Party.

Liberal Haters: These folks are Radicals. There One Truth is that nothing but Revolution will save America. Anyone who proposes anything short of Armed Resistance or Direct Action (whatever that is, I don’t think they know) is an Appeaser of the [Capitalism, The State, Fill in the Blank].

Electoral Politics is a Waste Of Time: Some of these folks belong to the above. The Democraps and the Repuglicans are two wings of the same party, big money and big government have made your vote useless. They have no solution to this, so they like to spend a lot of time online, beating up on people who might want to exercise their vote.

Cop-Haters: Cops are Bad. Cops are Pigs. Anybody who says anything good about a cop is…well…probably a cop.

Conspiracy Theorists: Well you know that Al-CIAda is responsible for 9-11. They did to put the fascists in power. They got help from the Israelis, who planted explosives in Twin Towers (oh, and you thought is was airliners who brought them down, you foolish person). They may have also been responsible for Oklahoma City. Of course the Bushes and the Bin Laden’s have been pals for years, funding Nazis and such. The communist-zionist conspiracy, some believe they are The Illuminati, descendants of a race of beings from outer space who have been controlling the human race since the beginning of time. These right wing theories have been around forever, but now they have new adherents among the anarcho-lefties. Dare to suggest that any piece of their theory is wrong and…well…you are part of the conspiracy.

Anyway, thats my peeve for the day