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Friday, August 04, 2017


by Robert Lee Whitmire

In [California] where house prices are twice the US average, artists and developers are feeling the ire of a growing movement to ‘defend our homes and our culture’ . . . A housing crisis is making homes unaffordable for the poor and middle class, uprooting communities and condemning families to sleep in vehicles, shelters and under tarpaulin. Photo: Protesters in Venice, California, have picketed the palm-fringed home of Snapchat. Photograph: Damian Dovarganes/AP —The Guardian, July 28, 2017

We tore down the road signs,
kept ripping them down so tourists, meddlers,
gawkers, piss-pot bureaucrats and enforcers
of common decency could not find our little
Not-Mayberry slip of pretty-close-to-Paradise.

That was before good maps and GPS.
With satellite navigation any of the above
could find us, but because we grew old and let
secret roadside attractions decay, and because we stopped
pissing at the moon no one wanted to find us anymore.

Well, that’s not quite true. Lots of people still wanted to find us,
but not to join the poetry. They wanted to subsume
our feisty little plot of way-far-out under turgid
gentrification brimming with souls crafted by money
instead of inspiration, exultation or revelation.

So the not-quite-work-if-you-can-call-it-that began.
Only because of the craven instincts of the many
could the work of the few—okay, be honest—the one,
get done. (See Tom Robbins for operating instructions.
Ducking unseen into parallel universes isn’t for the fainthearted.)

Now I no longer see them sat navving their way into real estate
platinum and orgasmic vegan co-ops as I stretch out alone,
midnight above ground, at the crossroads of Astral Boulevard
and Celesteville Highway, creating dust angels on used up
roads that long ago forgot where they were going.

Robert Lee Whitmire is a Vietnam veteran, a retired newspaperman, fine-art photographer, and social services worker. He spends his time reading, talking about stuff with his wife of 44 years, riding his Triumph Bonneville along Maine's back roads, and doting on his two grandchildren. He has published previously in TheNewVerse.News and One Sentence Poems.