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Category: Lenox

POEM: Calls


On the weekends my grandma made her calls.
She called the daughters and the nieces
and, in earlier years, the brothers or their wives.
She collected the latest news and gossip,
spreading it from call to call like a
carefully coifed version of the internet.
The calls were strong thread, knitting together
a small and far-flung family that had once
shared Sunday dinners in Lenox, and birthdays,
and holidays, but now mostly shared cards.
The women she used to call
are now grandmothers themselves,
and they talk on the weekends still.
I make my calls, too, to my sons
and my sister, and to cousins and aunts,
and to the found family I’ve gathered
during this strange life.
“One of these days,” my first therapist said,
“you’ll have to let go of Lenox.”
Maybe, but not today.

/ / /

30 July 2023
Charlottesville VA

This is poem 9 in a new series, 50 Days Till 50 Years. I’m writing a poem a day between now and my 50th birthday. I’m going to try to focus on memories of my past, and the people who inhabited it.

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POEM: Marge


My “lunch lady” voice is, to some degree, channeling her.
Other than FDR, and Burgess Meredith as the Penguin,
she was the only person I ever saw using a cigarette holder.
I remember her with a perm, with deep crinkles around her eyes,
and with oversized glasses on a chain around her neck.
(Uncle Jack would be in the next room,
monitoring the local first responders on his scanner.
In his younger days he’d wake the kids when the fire bell rang,
and they’d all rush off in pajamas and jackets to see the fire.)
She was a housekeeper at a swanky resort
in the swanky town our non-swanky family called home.
And that’s it, really. She worked and married (twice)
and raised kids and had thoughts and feelings and dreams,
but to me she’s a brief series of half-remembered sketches,
as I will be someday to people I can’t yet imagine meeting.

/ / /

29 July 2023
Charlottesville VA

This is poem 8 in a new series, 50 Days Till 50 Years. I’m writing a poem a day between now and my 50th birthday. I’m going to try to focus on memories of my past, and the people who inhabited it.

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A hopeful haibun

My hiking shoes punch into the crusted snow. I’m not hiking, just walking across the landscape of what might be my next stop. The barn is empty. The education center is empty. The bathrooms are open. The lights are on in the welcome center, but the sign in the window has been flipped to CLOSED. No matter. I want to get the lay of this land and I don’t need to talk to anyone to do it. At the end of the plowed path are two hopeful solar panels, pointing up through the clouds. An act of faith. A sign tells me to watch for beavers. I don’t see any.

spiked soles
pull the ground up
through the snow

/ / /

25 January 2022
Latham NY

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haiku: 11 January 2022

walking through history
thinking about renting it
sunlight floods the boards

/ / /

11 January 2022
Lenox MA

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POEM: sapling


standing under a streetlight
reading Baudelaire in its glow
while a movie downloads in my pocket

the marble steps of the library
shine with recent rain
44° on the last night of the year

to my right the hotel
where my mom learned to swim
now an old folks home

to my left the old pharmacy
above which I learned
what family meant and didn’t

the last time I came home
was the first time it felt foreign
as if I’d misplaced my memories

this time they’ve come charging back
leaping from my brain
to my heart to my gut

I browse the little bookstore
walk past the boutiques that were
the homes of family friends

I imagine myself living here
making a home where
all hope had been lost

my hands are getting cold
but it’s worth it to stand here
reading poetry, soaking it all in

you’ve got to let go of Lenox
a therapist said years ago
I’ve tried, half-heartedly

after forty new homes
and a year in a van
is it wrong to wish for roots?

I’ll plant the tree myself
let the rain do the rest
till my feet feel firm on the ground

/ / /

31 December 2021
Lenox MA

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POEM: 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

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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.

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SONG POEM: I Wanna Be A Regular

This is my first attempt at a rudimentary multi-track recording. I played all the instruments (diddley-bow, pandeiro, cajon) and wrote the poem. I recorded it using a Blue Snowball microphone and Audacity, neither of which is really designed for this purpose. But what the hell, I dig it and I’m learning. Enjoy!

The text of the poem is here.

Photo of the Hagyard Building in Lenox, MA, courtesy of Sally Gustavson.

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POEM: I Wanna Be A Regular

I Wanna Be A Regular

I wanna be / a regular / a guy who walks in and hears / the bartender say his name / who gets his root beer / before he’s sat all the way down / a guy who gossips / chews the fat with the other 3 pm hangers on / all of us gray at the temples / I wanna eat a French dip / with curly fries / that I didn’t have to order / because Becky knows / what I like // when I leave the bar / I’ll walk down the street nodding sagely / and sneer at the goddamn New Yorkers / driving their goddamn Benzes / too fast down Housatonic // I’ll stop in at The Bookstore / talk about Bernadette Mayer with the curly- / headed owner while / the tourists look at the postcards // later as the sun dips below the Berkshires / I’ll climb the creaky stairs to the second floor / sit in the kitchen where I sat / all those years before / hold my love’s hand / and feel the roots dig a little deeper / into the soil


Jason Crane
31 March 2019
Canandaigua, NY

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