Skip to content →

Category: Travel

POEM: Oasis

Oasis

It’s such a cliché even Looney Tunes covered it:
the desperate man in the desert, crawling toward water.
In the cartoon he usually dives into the pond
to find only sand where he sought salvation.
Me, I’ll be driving a minivan to the water’s edge,
and I’m fairly certain it’s actually there. At least
as certain as we can be of anything in these times.
At some point you have to ask yourself why you move.
What possible promise could await over the horizon?
Does forty degrees of longitude matter that much?
I’ll be the judge of that, says the little voice in my head.
I don’t trust that voice any further than I could throw it,
which is no distance at all if past is any kind of prologue.
“Go east, middle-aged man” doesn’t have the same ring to it
as the other, more famous phrase, but what the hell.
YOLO and whatnot. The tank is full, the nose is pointed
toward the rising sun. I have nothing to lose but my chains.
And probably some engine parts I can’t identify.
Save me a spot on the dunes.

/ / /

Jason Crane
25 October 2020
Tucson, AZ

Leave a Comment

POEM: Eat At Joe’s

Eat At Joe’s

we slept in the back of our
        Honda Fit across the road
        from a swanky bed & breakfast

a ridge across the middle of the car
        kept either of us from sleeping soundly
        while birds with laser guns warred in the trees

I don’t wear underwear & I’m too overweight
        to change in the car so at one point
        I was naked on the gravel at Parsons Marsh

we started on the road trip with -$100
        in the bank and $100 in my pocket
        enough for gas, one meal at the Heritage

& then some bread, cheese & pepperoni
        to eat on a blanket in the car
        faces lit from time to time by passing headlights

in the morning we ate omelets at Joe’s Diner
        the one from the Rockwell painting with the cop
        & the kid who should have been allowed to escape

there was a signed photo of John Williams on the wall
        which reminded me that I first saw Star Wars
        at a drive-in not too far from here

now: a coffee shop eavesdropping on the locals
        picking out the ones we want to befriend
        when we finally escape PA & move here

///

Jason Crane
10 May 2019
Lenox, MA

Note: It turns out I wrote a poem with this same title back in 2012.

Leave a Comment

VIDEO: “Swamp Thing”

A 90-second video essay made of clips from a recent trip to DC with my son John. All video and audio by Jason Crane.

Leave a Comment

POEM: reenlisting

reenlisting
for Owen

I didn’t go home after the war, instead —
rucksack slung over my shoulder
ashamed of who I’d become
& of who I’d left behind —

I wandered for years
winding a course through scrubland
surviving on tofu &
the kindness of strangers

later still I rose up from the South
ancient ground of (some of) my people
ankles swelling in a cramped bus seat
beside the Appalachian Trail

I’d always hated Pennsylvania
swore never to live there
so of course that’s where the bus stopped
less than a mile from my children

now, though I imagine water
& gulls above the Atlantic,
I find the ground hardening beneath my feet
as I relearn the delicate art of balance

on a blanket in the park
on a rain-soaked Friday evening
I took the ring from your fingers
& realized I’d gone home after all

/ / /

Jason Crane
22 March 2018
Butler PA

Leave a Comment

POEM: Peter, George, John, Joseph, Silas, Henry and Tom

Photo of the site of the battle by Jason Crane.

Peter, George, John, Joseph, Silas, Henry and Tom

pop!pop!pop!

Pinkerton rifles filling the air
with smoke & screams & blood

pop!pop!pop!

men of iron & steel
men of flesh & bone

pop!pop!pop!

the ground soaks up the evidence
the birds scatter; no witnesses

now: the furnaces shut, rusting
mud colors the Monongahela

two robins rest on a sign
listing the names of the dead

/ / /

Jason Crane
21 Feb 2018
Pittsburgh PA

This poem is inspired by the Battle of Homestead, which took place just down the road from my hotel. On July 2, 1892, Pinkertons hired by a steel company murdered seven striking workers, all members of the Amalgamated Association of Iron and Steel Workers. Three Pinkertons were also killed. Shortly thereafter the government used the state militia to bust the strike and break the union. The poem’s title is a list of the names of the seven murdered workers.

Leave a Comment