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  An American Odyssey

coming soon…

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Ferlinghetti     Ginsberg


& other poets of the American frontier


(Thanks to Sybil for the trip)


'Can you tell me where we're heading

Lincoln County Road or Armageddon’



‘Why, we are, as you see, upon the Enchanted Ground; and, as I was coming along, I was musing with myself of what a dangerous nature the road in this place was; and how many, that had come even thus far on pilgrimage, had here been stopped and been destroyed.’

(Bunyan, The Pilgrim’s Progress)


the Terminal is where my flight begins

latterday son of the Pilgrim Fathers

bred in a cold puritanical land


a lazy Icarus Iwing.jpg (122828 bytes)

take a lift

on metal bird

cross the Great Water

to the Other Side


inflight video called Coming Home

to roost perhaps

no I am not a Vietnam Veteran

but yes I guess I still carry some scars


head in the thunder-clouds

giddy as god

I’ve left my island far behind

look down on a continent

and think

Whitman you should be living at this hour




first stop Chicago

Chicago Chicago

skyscraper Babel


quick hop to Texas

Amarillo as in the song

this is the place they assemble the warheads


then I get driven

jaggedly jet-lagged

into next state


border roadsign bears the legend

Land of Enchantment


I’m enchanted mam I’m sure




this is an Indian Summer in Fall

between the New World and Old Mexico


Yucca grows tall in the dusty small town

sand on the sidewalk here

the desert’s near

sprinklers on the burnt-out lawns

air-conditioned everywhere inside


curfew at noon

amid the blaze

I play blind Samson

in dark glasses

a mad dog

or an Englishman abroad

ignore the Don’t Walk sign

and walk

to get almighty dollar$ from the drive-in bank


rednecks yell from a pick-up truck

rowdy rodeo and cowboy hats


why don’t I slay some philistines

I could but for this convict crewcut


fallout shelter in the best hotel

hell-hole hideout

case the house falls down


high noon now

do not forsake me



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Model T Ford at the County Fair

Exhibit A in the trial of the century

that’s how we got to here from there

by Cadillac and Chevrolet


now the auto’s automatic

going flat-out to be upwardly mobile


today’s hard drive

to stay alive

move with the times


chase that mirage

in the heat haze

receding water on the road


on our left the grave of Billy the Kid

killer outlaw on the run

shot by sheriff

just desert



the Mesa

miles glide swiftly

in this movie

viewed thru the wound-down window’s frame

a natural history documentary


suddenly it’s wild



Road Runner Road Runner

clown of the West

dicing with death between the wheels

at speed


why did it

why did it cross the road


then the well-worn song on the soundtrack

Route 66

a long rough ride

over Indian bones


Route 66

freeway to progress


subsiding back

into honey-combed ground


savages warned

White Man knew better


we get our kicks




stay one night in a neon motel

at Santa Rosa

anywhere else would be much the same


standard fittings

Gideon’s Bible and holy screen


TV now the world religion

millions in communion

worship surface images


turn on tune in

for culture shock


not Dallas but the Mayor of Casterbridge

Farfrae doing a Scottish jig

Farfrae Farfrae far frae hame


Laurel and Hardy is predictable

Doubting Thomas with the laurels

gives pause for thought


there must have been Scots settlers once

notice the place names on the map

Melrose McAlister McIntosh




here at last the real McCoy

or simulacrum of the same


with six pack and tobacco

sit back enjoy the show


the world of sport

the killing game

big fight beamed live


those who are about to dieflag.gif (20197 bytes)

salute this flag

or colored rag


doctor I see stars and stripes

in front of my eyes


black man sings

Land of the Free

at a price

some can’t afford


zap that remote

it’s your choice of channels

this is a Democracy

whose side are you on


a word from our sponsors

vote for the good guys

that means US

we stock the latest weapons

great special F/X


for power at your fingertips

zap that remote


you’re in consumer heaven

we give you all this rope

57 varieties

sitcom or soap

whatever we can sell

from televangelic

to bulletins from hell


so it’s only chewing gum

so loses its flavor

you still go on chewing

it won’t make you fat

we could feed the starving millions

with more of that


seeing is believing

would we tell you any lies


what’s the difference

between news and adverts

the same sincere

insistent voice

puts viewers wise


when you’ve said Budweiser

you’ve said it all




O culinary Americana

the menu’s cornucopian


my cup of coffee runneth over

I’m new-baptised in Coca Cola


and this is verily the Promised Land

that flows with malted milk and money


wake in the morning and it’s sunny-side up

pumpkin or apple pie-in-the-sky


here’s a leaning tower of pizzas

there’s McDonald’s duck with french fries


put your snout in the trough

if you’re hungry mister




Sangre de Christos

mountains to climb

bridge over the Rio Grande

guidebook in hand


Taos way

in Lawrence’s footsteps


Hopi dancers circle squares

amusing tourists


the Indians have their reservations


to prove I’ve been there

send a postcard


picture of the old Pueblo

rockhard their abode’s adobe

cornbread baking in an outdoor oven


fossils and artefacts in museums

turquoise trinkets from the natives


follow the conquistadores

railroad track to Santa Fe


mission church with spiral staircase

steps of the Son

ascending heavenwards

declared a miracle of intricate construction

no crucial nails to fix the dovetailed joints

made by a fair-haired carpenter

stranger who simply disappeared

maybe an angel in disguise


hallucinations of the heat

Hispanic blood in the melting pot


single seņorita in a crowded piazza

flamenco man with blue guitar


I take a sneaky snapshot

no better than the rest




of course they came from Spain

and now northwards

nightly  to infiltrate

a fatal flawed imperial frontier


there are theories about migration

from Asia and even Outer Space


they’ve been around

a long time here

eleven thousand years or so


the oldest tribe

their stone-age knives


the cutting edge

one molecule

stripped mammoth skin


it’s Clovis Man


you too can be

like some old hippy in clover

at the local Head Shop browsing

its skins its pipes its

homegrow magic mushroom kits

a shaman’s garden

aimed at Eden




to me the landscape’s alien

tho I don’t see thru Martian eyes


cattle cottonfield and peanut country

windmills and artesian wells


solar collectors

a host of golden

wild sunflowers

brighten the air


the traveller’s journey isn’t yet done


deep water takes me by surprise

oasis lake

its rainbow colors in an oil-black mirror

my reflection and the sky’s


out in the boondocks

beware of snakes




drive off

drive on

drive into sundown


some enchanted evening


a lucky strike of Acapulco gold

under the big round harvest moon


stoned as any student

I stagger to the campus gig

live onstage a Latin band

plays the universal language



pulsing light

like science fiction

flying saucer frisbees soar

above the crowd

the stars are singing


crickets click at sultry midnight

Buddy Holly still raves on

cut his tracks in wax at Clovis

killed in a plane crash

flew too close to the blazing sun


I whistle in the dark

a jolly tune


more fear than loathing

more hope than fear

better to travel hopefully


lost alone in downtown nowhere

ask a friendly cop with gun

rush to catch last greyhound busgreyhound.jpg (74660 bytes)

transported onwards as I sleep


heap more travelling ahead




one day the sun rose twice in the east

a little east of Radium Springs

east of the town of Truth or Consequences


regular guy

worked at White Sands

Missile Range

twenty one years

died of cancer

flew too high

read it in the mourning paper


Navajo ghosts haunt Alamogordo

birthplace of nightmares

Jornado del Muerto

a very hot spot

ground zero

Trinity site

the Holy Spirit in a tongue of flame

turned sand to glass


the darkest hour

5:29:45 a.m.


mine eyes have seen the glory

of the blinding bright white light


then spoke the Thunder


shatterer of worlds


all that before breakfast


have a nice day




O W.A.S.P. there is thy sting

you who were born again

believe in fairy tales

American Dream



come Columbus Day

the big parade


and then Thanksgiving




bought the perfect souvenir

a can of that Budweisser beer


at the Customs I shall swear

I have nothing to declare





the desert Resurrection plant

rehydrates in English rain


returning East what seemed so dead

starts to come alive again


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(New Mexico 1979)



‘From fall to revelation, a mean riff all the way, as an Englishman abroad meets Buddy Holly, D.H.Lawrence, Milton, Blake, Walt Whitman (& Disney), T.S.Eliot, et al. (spot the allusions) in this road movie journal/journey into the dark heart of the American psyche. An eschatological, phantasmagoric ride down Route 66 & beyond.’






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(words & photos: dk)




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