Peter O'Leary's review of fellow Minnesotan Gabriel Gudding's Rhode Island Notebook.

I have a strange deja-vu, reading this, & am reminded of a poem I wrote in 1968, which was published in the Blake School (my high school) literary magazine, Talisman (1969 issue) :


rusted rails running to
Moose Lake, Bruno, Willow Creek
North Branch, Stacy, Forest Lake.
white farmhouse wanders by among
clusters of contraptions -
a dirty once blue pick-up sits
on concrete blocks
a crazy useless tractor, one wheel
sunk in spring mud
a wind vane creaks on a pole.
the brown once red barn
slides sloping into earth again.
restless freeway runs between
Moose Lake, Bruno, Willow Creek
North Branch, Stacy, Forest Lake.
where screaming metal screams past
screaming glass, and billboards flash
sun-scorched, unread scrawls.
dairy queens stretch their spray-paint
crowns across the road, one last try
before they die in the darkness behind.
telephone poles crash bravely through
the barrier, and men in blue shirts dig holes.
the stop lights are always green
and the towns
Moose Lake, Bruno, Willow Creek
North Branch, Stacy, Forest Lake
speed by without breathing
brown brick
Joe's Bar B-Q
gray grain elevator
then gone, flashing dull.
when they have gone,
only the gray, billboarded, roadsigned
tongue remains -
always running, running to another
Moose Lake, Bruno, Willow Creek
North Branch, Stacy, Forest Lake.


Meg said...

Ah well...that was certainly a strange occurrence.

I was out and about this morning on the internet....thinking to come up with something different.

Found Paul Klee's depiction of an angel in some kind of storm in Paradise...ran across the word Trauerspiel and was fascinated...

Began to write a cruddy poem...after seeing something else about some one or another who was traveling through small town America and describing the frightening visions he saw there...the Baptist church signs and various other religious artifacts...

It made me think....oh...that sign up there on Arizona street. It has this tendency to make a curious shadow at night that looks like a crucifix...quite haunting and all.

So I aimed to describe it and one thing led to another..the action of the poem took me to a place across the street....which just so happens to be the Dairy Queen.

I chucked it..the poem....although my blog did save it for me..and decided to come and pay you a visit because I've become fascinated with what you have to say and am just generally interested...

Voila. I found here...the Dairy Queen.

I said...aha. What am I supposed to find out about with Henry Gould?
What conversation is supposed to happen here?

I can say this...that this morning Allah forced me to see something quite profound but I cannot explain that just right now to a stranger. Wouldn't even try.

But it is important sometimes to share something I am quite, quite sure is not co-incidental.

The Dairy Queen isn't on my topic list each and every day although I must admit..somewhere in my mind there is the old desire to formulate a grand Dairy Queen poem...but it doesn't come up very often and for it to be in my mind one minute and here on your blog the next...

I thought you ought to hear that.

It's crazy and I don't necessarily expect you to understand what this conversation I am having with your comment box is about.

Not yet anyway.

Henry Gould said...

Hi Meg -

Thank you for reading my very old poem here. Funny to think how long the Dairy Queen has in business - longer than I've been scribbling poems. So now the Dairy Queen is something we have in common, as writers...

It seems that ideas or images for poems do indeed (sometimes) hang around for a long, long time - & go through different transmogrifications. So maybe the Queen of the Dairy will appear again in some new form in your work.

You might be interested in Gabriel Gudding's book, Rhode Island Notebook, written while driving across the country.

He & I are both from Minnesota, which as you may know is a great Dairy State. I think the brand name "Dairy Queen" actually comes from the tradition of state fairs in the midwest, where every August someone would be elected Queen of the Fair. There's a historical museum in St. Paul with a display of an old "royal costume" from one of these fairs in the 30s or 40s, made completely out of Land o'lakes butter boxes...