POEM: after the deluge, cookies


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POEM: untitled


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POEM: the queen of lizard island


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Finding JAPAN

OK, so I need to tell you a crazy story.

From 1991-92, I lived in northern Japan. Although I lived far from the other exchange students in my program, I did see them occasionally for Rotary events. When I did, we tended to sing the title track from Tsuyoshi Nagabuchi’s album JAPAN. I adore this album, which came out in ’91 and features folks like Roy Bittan (E Street Band) and Arnold McCuller (Phil Collins, Lyle Lovett, James Taylor). This song means a lot to me, and the album means a lot to me too.

Last year I lost everything I’ve ever owned — my entire record and CD collection, all my books except my poetry books, most of my photos from my entire life, my journals … everything. Included in that loss was my copy of JAPAN.

The other day, Elaine and I were working at Webster’s and taking things out from under some bins. She came across a box of world music CDs and handed one to me, asking if I could read it. Against every possible chance, it was a copy of Tsuyoshi Nagabuchi’s JAPAN. I was absolutely stunned. There’s no reason at all for this CD to be in Webster’s. It’s a 23-year-old CD that came out in Japan and, as far as I know, wasn’t released in the US.

I took it from her with trembling hands and my heart pounding. Then I ran over to the CD player and cranked up the first track. I stood there for the whole six minutes with it blasting through the store, I’m sure confusing our customers.

Life is weird and unpredictable and often wonderful. And I have JAPAN back.


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POEM: maybe it’s the missing you talking


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Closed On Sunday (Martinsburg & Huntingdon)

I took a hundred-mile ride today in the company of my pal Wiggus, who rides a sweet Triumph motorcycle with a much bigger engine than Zaphod’s. I didn’t ask him, when it was all said and done, how much slower than normal he’d had to ride, because I was afraid he might tell me. Truth be told, I don’t think he had to throttle down that much. Those winding Central PA roads tend to even out the size of one’s engine.

Today's route was breathtaking.

Today’s route was breathtaking.

So that’s the route up above. Believe me when I tell you that the map can’t even begin to represent the beauty of this drive.

Our steeds, parked outside Chez Wiggus.

Our steeds, parked outside Chez Wiggus.

The first part of the ride, over the mountain in the direction of Hungtindon, was one I’ve taken a couple times before. In fact, I first did it on Vroomfondel (photos). And I rode part of Route 305 just the other day. But today we took 305 much further. And it was stunning.

On 305 to Alexandria.  It ain't ugly.

On 305 to Alexandria. It ain’t ugly.

We spent most of the non-riding time photographing our bikes.

We spent most of the non-riding time photographing our bikes.

I don’t have a picture of most breathtaking moment, which was coming around a corner to see a wall of mountains to the right and a mile-wide swath of farm fields between the road and the mountains, all of it stretching away over the horizon. I can’t remember if this happened before or after Martinsburg, but I do remember the tingle that ran up my spine when we rounded the bend and saw this majestic vista.

We made it to Martinsburg only to discover that Mamie’s Cafe, our destination, was closed on Sunday. I peeked in through the window and it looked lovely. A counter covered in pastries and cakes and pies, with classic round tables and wooden chairs visible through an archway. Definitely worth a return trip.



Wiggus knew of a place in Huntingdon, so we headed up Clover Creek Road and over the mountain to get there. At one point we were passed, fairly dangerously, by four guys on crotch rockets. They whipped around Wiggus and me and the car ahead of us, all uphill around a blind curve. All four survived. Later we were passed by their two friends, one of whom barely missed hitting an oncoming Harley, the driver of which was not amused, if his gesture was any indication.

The joint in Huntingdon was also closed, because this is central PA, so we ended up getting drinks and snacks at Sheetz and then coming home via 26.

Wiggus up ahead.

Wiggus up ahead.

Going back up the mountain on 26 I started losing power, but Wiggus pointed out that it was likely a fuel delivery problem, and when I thought about it, that made sense. I was nearly out of gas, going up a steep grade with the throttle wide open.

We parted ways to our respective homes shortly thereafter. A fabulous day, and definitely not my last ride with Wiggus.

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