Yes, the road.

Yes, the road.
Eagle Nest, New Mexico. “People like to drive because driving is actually and symbolically an almost perfect mechanism for escape…there is probably no human being who does not have troubles, real or imagined, from which he at times feels the need to flee.” George R. Stewart.


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Brooklin, Maine, United States
We own a 1975 GMC Sierra Grande 15 in Maine and a 1986 Chevrolet Custom Deluxe 10 in West Texas. Also a pair of 1997 Volvo 850 wagons. Average age in the fleet is 28 years--we're recycling. I've published 3 novels: THE LAW OF DREAMS (2006), THE O'BRIENS (2012), and CARRY ME (2016). Also 2 short story collections: NIGHT DRIVING(1987) and TRAVELLING LIGHT (2013). More of my literary life is at I was a Fellow at the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study for 2012-13. I'm an adjunct professor at Colorado College and in the MFA program at Queens University of Charlotte. In 2015-16 I was a Fellow at Harvard University's Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study. The Autoliterate office is in Car Talk Plaza in Harvard Square, 2 floors above Dewey Cheatem & Howe. SUBSCRIBE TO THE AUTOLITERATE DAILY EMAIL by hitting the button to the right.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Richard Hugo poem: Degrees of Gray in Philipsburg

Degrees of Gray in Philipsburg 

You might come here Sunday on a whim. 
Say your life broke down. The last good kiss 
you had was years ago. You walk these streets 
laid out by the insane, past hotels 
that didn’t last, bars that did, the tortured try 
of local drivers to accelerate their lives. 
Only churches are kept up. The jail 
turned 70 this year. The only prisoner 
is always in, not knowing what he’s done. 

The principal supporting business now 
is rage. Hatred of the various grays 
the mountain sends, hatred of the mill, 
The Silver Bill repeal, the best liked girls 
who leave each year for Butte. One good 
restaurant and bars can’t wipe the boredom out. 
The 1907 boom, eight going silver mines, 
a dance floor built on springs— 
all memory resolves itself in gaze, 
in panoramic green you know the cattle eat 
or two stacks high above the town, 
two dead kilns, the huge mill in collapse 
for fifty years that won’t fall finally down. 

Isn’t this your life? That ancient kiss 
still burning out your eyes? Isn’t this defeat 
so accurate, the church bell simply seems 
a pure announcement: ring and no one comes? 
Don’t empty houses ring? Are magnesium 
and scorn sufficient to support a town, 
not just Philipsburg, but towns 
of towering blondes, good jazz and booze 
the world will never let you have 
until the town you came from dies inside? 

Say no to yourself. The old man, twenty 
when the jail was built, still laughs 
although his lips collapse. Someday soon, 
he says, I’ll go to sleep and not wake up. 
You tell him no. You’re talking to yourself. 
The car that brought you here still runs. 
The money you buy lunch with, 
no matter where it’s mined, is silver 
and the girl who serves your food 
is slender and her red hair lights the wall.

                                                                   --RICHARD HUGO 

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