Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Travel Log: 26 Sept - 28 Sept


Tucson, Ariz. to Denver, Colo. via I-10, New Mexico 26, and I-25; ~915 miles

Travel Highlight

Pronghorn antelope.1. The new Kawasaki dual-screen portable DVD player. The screens strap to the back of the headrests, so our girls can lounge to educational DVDs like Arthur and less educational DVDs like Barbie and the Magic of Pegasus while we log the highway miles in relative peace.

2. That even though the girls were zoning out on DVDs or alternatively jamming to CDs, their keen eyes were sweeping the big-sky landscape, growing ever more excited by the amount of wildlife we saw, especially along I-25 south of Raton, N.M., with such critters as pronghorn antelope (which one daughter calls canteloupes).

Travel Lowlight

Regarding the Holiday Inn Express in Bernalillo, N.M., I have three questions:

1. Why can I not retroactively earn Priority Club points, when I've been a member for ever so long, and I simply forgot my card? C'mon, catch up with the airline programs already.

2. Is it standard procedure for guests to wait and wait and wait for the front desk clerk to finish an obviously personal phone call before checking guests in?

3. I realize I'm a tall drink of water at 6'5", but is it asking too much, really, for the showerheads to be higher than five feet? Six feet would be much better. Six-and-a-half would be absolutely divine.


The Denver Doolings!Once in Denver, we stayed with our good friends Carolyn and Joe Dooling and their children, in their popped-top 1911 Congress Park bungalow. What wonderful hosts they were, and the house---work all done by Joe, who is an architect/contractor---looks great!

The Reading

Fellow blogger and Auburn grad Jake Adam York, head of the creative writing program at the University of Colorado at Denver and Health Sciences Center, set up a reading hosted by Copper Nickel (which Jake edits), UCDHSC, and the Colorado Council on the Arts. In 2000, I won a Colorado Artists Fellowship for Poetry, awarded by the Council. Alas, the Council rep didn't show for the reading, but we had a great time nonetheless.

Before the reading I told Jake a story of how, at the Tucson Poetry Festival this past April, I attended a reading at a warehouse where the back doors wouldn't shut, and every 10 minutes or so a train rumbled by. The reader would have to stop and wait for the train or try to read through it. Some even read "train poems" for the occassion.

Jake Adam YorkThe night before the UCDHSC reading, Jake found out (and notified me) that the room had changed. When we arrived at the newly assigned room, a class was in progress. As reading time neared, Jake interrupted the instructor, who said the class would go on, in that location, for another two hours. Calls to facilities management were fruitless.

So we headed outside, to a small flagstone amphitheater. We lost a few attendees, undoubtedly; it was cold; I couldn't play my indigo bunting birdsong without an electrical outlet; and the trains rolled by every eight-and-a-half minutes or so. But it was a good, invigorating reading, at least for me, in that chilly Colorado evening air. I sold a few books, including a couple IOUs for which I have yet to and in fact may never receive payment. But if the students need the book that badly, and cannot afford to pay the $15 Riverfall is going for---well, they can have it!

Three Things I Think...

1. I think the format for this series of "Travel Logs," including the 'things I think' idea, is borrowed from Peter King's Monday Morning Quarterback, an excellent sports column if you like such things (and like NFL action, too). Thanks Pete!

2. I think I was fairly surprised when my wife said, after our first day back to Denver, "I really miss Denver." We moved from Denver back in 2000. There's definitely more hussle and bussle in that big town than I recall, but the urban vitality, the urban amenities, the seasons(!) are all hard to beat. But we have no plans to move back; and couldn't afford to if we wanted to, anyway.

3. I think I really enjoyed dinner with Jake at Pints Pub, his local British brewpub, after the reading. It was great to catch up, talk about our old Auburn poetry teacher R.T. Smith---among many other things---and the food and beer were equally outstanding.

Closing Poem

On the occasion of traveling to Colorado for a series of poetry readings, I present a poem of the same name, housed on page 61 of Riverfall:


You cannot write the poem
of this place: rather

ask the mountain—
a deep shadow casting

trout that coil sine-
like beneath the ice.

Ask the wind—giving
snow squalls sudden life,

fallen elk slow death.
Ask the plateau—

its native dwellers dancing
the red fire into night,

a goshawk diving
through cry of cottontail,

columbines dropping cold
blue. Ask the bighorn

if you can find him,
the grizzly of San Juan,

the pale maned wolf
of Indian Peaks,

the mountain lion sprawled
above tender lamb.

Oh what is the geography
of this place that

we cannot define it?

No comments: