Cherrylog Road

This post I wanted to share another of my favorite poems, Cherrylog Road by James L. Dickey.

Dickey was born in Buckhead, Georgia in 1923. He would attend Clemson University before joining the U.S. effort in WWII. He served as a Night Fighter in an air squadron in the Pacific Theater and flew over 100 combat missions. After the war he spent time continuing his education and taught and lectured for awhile. He eventually decided, in his words to “Chase the buck,” and he began to work as a writer in advertising. He would return to more personal writing and would publish his first collection of poetry in n 1960 called Into the Stone, and other writings. He would become a national poet Laurette in 1966 and publish his acclaimed novel Deliverance in 1970. He would even have a cameo in the Burt Reynolds starring film adaptation.

Dickey’s writing is known for a sense of primitivism that he envokes even as modern man would like to escape from it. He often in his writing inhabits animals and gives us nature’s perspective. He liked to blur the lines of reality and the dream world and often base human desire.

In the poem Cherrylog Road a young man has parked his bike in a junkyard and is awaiting his girlfriend to come along for a make out session in an abandoned and decrepit auto. While he waits he gathers up some parts for girl to show her dad as an excuse to go in the first place. I love this poem, hope you enjoy it as well. Keep up to date with Mid-American-Culture and follow us on Twitter for fresh content daily and I leave you on Cherrylog Road.

Cherrylog Road

Off Highway 106
At Cherrylog Road I entered
The ’34 Ford without wheels,
Smothered in kudzu,
With a seat pulled out to run
Corn whiskey down from the hills,
And then from the other side
Crept into an Essex
With a rumble seat of red leather
And then out again, aboard
A blue Chevrolet, releasing
The rust from its other color,
Reared up on three building blocks.
None had the same body heat;
I changed with them inward, toward
The weedy heart of the junkyard,
For I knew that Doris Holbrook
Would escape from her father at noon
And would come from the farm
To seek parts owned by the sun
Among the abandoned chassis,
Sitting in each in turn
As I did, leaning forward
As in a wild stock-car race
In the parking lot of the dead.
Time after time, I climbed in
And out the other side, like
An envoy or movie star
Met at the station by crickets.
A radiator cap raised its head,
Become a real toad or a kingsnake
As I neared the hub of the yard,
Passing through many states,
Many lives, to reach
Some grandmother’s long Pierce-Arrow
Sending platters of blindness forth
From its nickel hubcaps
And spilling its tender upholstery
On sleepy roaches,
The glass panel in between
Lady and colored driver
Not all the way broken out,
The back-seat phone
Still on its hook.
I got in as though to exclaim,
“Let us go to the orphan asylum,
John; I have some old toys
For children who say their prayers.”
I popped with sweat as I thought
I heard Doris Holbrook scrape
Like a mouse in the southern-state sun
That was eating the paint in blisters
From a hundred car tops and hoods.
She was tapping like code,
Loosening the screws,
Carrying off headlights,
Sparkplugs, bumpers,
Cracked mirrors and gear-knobs,
Getting ready, already,
To go back with something to show
Other than her lips’ new trembling
I would hold to me soon, soon,
Where I sat in the ripped back seat
Talking over the interphone,
Praying for Doris Holbrook
To come from her father’s farm
And to get back there
With no trace of me on her face
To be seen by her red-haired father
Who would change, in the squalling barn,
Her back’s pale skin with a strop,
Then lay for me
In a bootlegger’s roasting car
With a string-triggered I2-gauge shotgun
To blast the breath from the air.
Not cut by the jagged windshields,
Through the acres of wrecks she came
With a wrench in her hand,
Through dust where the blacksnake dies
Of boredom, and the beetle knows
The compost has no more life.
Someone outside would have seen
The oldest car’s door inexplicably
Close from within:
I held her and held her and held her,
Convoyed at terrific speed
By the stalled, dreaming traffic around us,
So the blacksnake, stiff
With inaction, curved back
Into life, and hunted the mouse
With deadly overexcitement,
The beetles reclaimed their field
As we clung, glued together,
With the hooks of the seat springs
Working through to catch us red-handed
Amidst the gray breathless batting
That burst from the seat at our backs.
We left by separate doors
Into the changed, other bodies
Of cars, she down Cherrylog Road
And I to my motorcycle
Parked like the soul of the junkyard
Restored, a bicycle fleshed
With power, and tore off
Up Highway 106, continually
Drunk on the wind in my mouth,
Wringing the handlebar for speed,
Wild to be wreckage forever.

In Times of Trouble: Great Books When You Are Down

Hello everyone, yesterday the terrible news came out that celebrity chef and tv host Anthony Bourdain had passed away. It was only a few weeks ago I was writing about Frightened Rabbit’s lead singer Scott Hutchinson who had also passed away under duress. I’m immensely saddened by the loss of these people who came into our lives and shared a bit of themselves with us. The world can be hard and hurtful at times. Politics are a mess and people seem to be at each other’s throats over the most basic things. When the world seems extra heavy, there are a few good reads I like to take a time out with that always seem to brighten my mood and I’ll share them with you now.

Bluebeard by Kurt Vonnegut is the tale of a 71year old painter, named Rabo Karabekian living in a 19 bedroom home he inherited from his late wife. He lets a writer move in named Circe, who actually writes under a pen name and is quit famous and successful. She eventually convinces Rabo to write an autobiography detailing his long and eventful life. The book is full of funny and heartbreaking stories from the streets of San Francisco as a young immigrant boy, to the European theater of World War II. It ends up as a lifting tale that I believe ranks with Vonnegut’s best work.

When You Are Engulfed in Flames by David Sedaris is one of my all time favorite books. Sedaris is a humorist and essayist whom I was lucky enough to go to a reading in Dayton, Ohio when my wife bought me tickets for my 40th birthday. Sedaris signed a book for me and asked about my grandfather’s watch I was wearing. He added it into his signature in my book.

The book is chocked full of hilarious observations that start out pretty funny, but Sedaris can flip on a dime and it can be quite poignant as well. His stories often revolve around his middle class up bring in North Carolina or his hitchhiking across the country. His funniest stuff comes from a lot of the crap jobs he had while living in Chicago and New York, plus his endless, but charming quibbles with his boyfriend Hugh. However in this book the last 1/3 is dedicated to his battle to quit smoking and moving to Japan for 3months to accomplish it. I also have this book on audio, read by the author and I’ve listened to it numerous times. It’s a great companion on long drives by yourself.

If you’ve seen any of my other posts on Mid-American-Culture you may have read a couple of the Robert Frost posts I’ve done. He’s hands down my favorite poet and when the world has beaten me down, I’ll often settle down with a book of his poetry and be taken away to days on the farm around New England, or walking along the old stone wall. Here’s his poem After Apple Picking;

After Apple-Picking

BY ROBERT FROST

My long two-pointed ladder’s sticking through a tree

Toward heaven still,

And there’s a barrel that I didn’t fill

Beside it, and there may be two or three

Apples I didn’t pick upon some bough.

But I am done with apple-picking now.

Essence of winter sleep is on the night,

The scent of apples: I am drowsing off.

I cannot rub the strangeness from my sight

I got from looking through a pane of glass

I skimmed this morning from the drinking trough

And held against the world of hoary grass.

It melted, and I let it fall and break.

But I was well

Upon my way to sleep before it fell,

And I could tell

What form my dreaming was about to take.

Magnified apples appear and disappear,

Stem end and blossom end,

And every fleck of russet showing clear.

My instep arch not only keeps the ache,

It keeps the pressure of a ladder-round.

I feel the ladder sway as the boughs bend.

And I keep hearing from the cellar bin

The rumbling sound

Of load on load of apples coming in.

For I have had too much

Of apple-picking: I am overtired

Of the great harvest I myself desired.

There were ten thousand thousand fruit to touch,

Cherish in hand, lift down, and not let fall.

For all

That struck the earth,

No matter if not bruised or spiked with stubble,

Went surely to the cider-apple heap

As of no worth.

One can see what will trouble

This sleep of mine, whatever sleep it is.

Were he not gone,

The woodchuck could say whether it’s like his

Long sleep, as I describe its coming on,

Or just some human sleep.

Lastly Matt Fraction and David Aja had a spectacular run on Marvel’s Hawkeye where the title character and his alter ego Clint Barton battled countless Russian mob members and his own brand of depression. He reconnects with his brother Barney and has some help with his side kick Kate Bishop, AKA the other Hawkeye. Fraction delivers a tour de force character arc here and David Aja’s minimalist art is brilliant. I recommend this comic series to everyone I meet and I’ll suggest it to you as well. It’s always a great place to return too.

So there you go. Some great reads to dive into and get away from it all. But also, call your mom. Talk to your dad. Check on your friends, it’s a cold world sometimes and we could all use a hand. Don’t be ashamed of needing that hand. Someone can help you today and you return the favor tomorrow. It may sound cheesy but it works. Of course if you can’t find anyone else and you’ve reached your breaking point please call the suicide prevention hotline at 1-800- 273-8255. Take care everyone and keep up to date with more Mid-American-Culture.

I Guess he’s back, back again.

Good morning everyone. Marvel Comics decided to kill off Wolverine, the mighty mutant Canuck nearly 5 years ago. He died in a series apptly named The Death of Wolverine. Just so everyone knew what was coming.

Wolverine was a very popular character for decades. He was the crop of characters that joined the X-Men in the late 1970’s. He had previously been introduced fighting the Incredible Hulk over in his book.

Wolverine would spend the 80’s and 90’s growing into one of Comics most popular characters selling with the likes of Spider-Man, Batman, and the Fantastic Four.

Wolverine or Logan as he was known to his friends, was a killing machine that was impossible to kill. He would end up with a heart of gold though and would take the scared, new mutant kids under his wing and teach them the way of the Samurai and stuff.

Bad thing was, Wolverine was so popular it became a running joke about how in the hell he could appear in 7 x-men books, his own book, a one shot special and make a guest appearances in Daredevil all in the same month?

The biggest blow to good ole Logan would be the inevitable washing away of what made him cool in the first place. Wolverine was really a man of mystery set to fits of bezerker rage. He didn’t know who he was or where he came from.

Marvel would eventually throw all that out the door. He even gave up his iconic cigars. I mean it’s cool if YOU smoke Logan, you have a mutant healing factor! No, Marvel would take away all the mystery in 2 mini series called Origin.

Origin would take away all the mystery from the story. Who he was, which was apparently a rich land owner’s son. It just stole the mystique of the character and he couldn’t go back. So while Origin sold very well, it would only go down hill. Because when he was an unstoppable weapon of death he still had no idea about himself. He constantly battled his demons and wether or not he was a man or an animal. Now he was no more complex a character than any one else. James Howlett was his real name, and he was actually an heir to a rich family name and was nigh invulnerable. Essentially Batman and Superman mashed together.

No one was interested in this. They made him a head master at the Xavier school. Now Wolverine was a teacher. They had him and Storm date post her divorce from the Black Panther. He would lose his healing factor. Then get a super suit. No one cared. Let’s just kill him off.

So he died.

He was still around though. Hugh Jackman was ever present on screen. During the Secret Wars story line a alternate universe Old Man Logan would be brought to the main stream. The Ultimate Universe Logan had a son named Jimmy Hudson who would show up in X-Men Blue, and normal universe Daken would be around on drugs and fighting Moon Knight. Plus, you had the next gen Wolvie, Laura Kinney. Laura was a clone of Logan who had a messed up story and lots of doubt about who she was, coupled with “are clones even real people” syndrome that most fictional clones seem to have.

She would step up to fill Logan’s blue boots. It would be pretty awesome. They would take all the good and cool of the legend of Wolverine and not give it all away. Plus little girls could pull the claws now and ask random bubs what was up? Oh and plus Honey Badger! She’s a clone of Laura and she’s just a kid but tons of fun.

Well, like all things in comicdom, James Howlett AKA Logan AKA Wolverine is coming back. Something about a damn infinity stone because there’s a Marvel Movie about Infinity Stones so we gotta cram that into the comic pages. With Logan’s return, they have kicked Laura out of her All-New Wolverine costume and back to her X-23 belly shirt. It’s kinda sad. She had grown a lot as a character in the last four years.

Have a great week everyone and like always Make Mine Mid-American-Culture!

Another Saturday Morning Poetry Corner.

Hey everyone, I was thinking about the way people come across poetry and what that initial contact was that introduced us to a poem. Growing up in the 1980’s my first feel for poetry came from Robin Williams and Director Peter Weir’s 1989 film, Dead Poet’s Society. I’m actually sure I’d enjoyed some Shel Silverstein that Mrs. Wagner read us in first grade, but Robin Williams made it epic.

Honestly, aside from a couple of good performances, notably Mr. William’s, the movie isn’t that good. It’s heavy handed and slightly derivative. William’s plays Mr. Keating, an English teacher at an all boys prep school. He’s the righteous fire brand who hopes to fuel the boys out of their ultra conservative 1950’s life. He does it with poetry. William’s is awesome at oration, no doubt benefiting from his years as a stand up comedian. He gives the boys pieces of poetry by Frost, Keats, and Dickinson and fires them up but they don’t ever analyze a damn thing. The writing is kinda weak and he totally blows the meaning of The Road Not Taken. I’ve set through a few commencement speeches that do the same. However to my twelve year old self who was thrilling on the adventures that summer of Batman, Indiana Jones, and even Field of Dreams, the climatic end of Dead Poet’s Society was pretty fantastic. Mr. Keats is being dismissed for his rebel rousing ways and in a show of solidarity, the kids that made up The Dead Poets Society climb atop their desks and break all the rules and recite Walt Whitman’s eulogy to Abraham Lincoln Oh Captain, My Captain. It was pretty cool then and even today. Have a great Memorial Day Weekend and keep up with several things considered here at Mid-American-Culture.

O Captain! My Captain!

O Captain! my Captain! our fearful trip is done,
The ship has weather’d every rack, the prize we sought is won,
The port is near, the bells I hear, the people all exulting,
While follow eyes the steady keel, the vessel grim and daring;
But O heart! heart! heart!
O the bleeding drops of red,
Where on the deck my Captain lies,
Fallen cold and dead.
O Captain! my Captain! rise up and hear the bells;
Rise up—for you the flag is flung—for you the bugle trills,
For you bouquets and ribbon’d wreaths—for you the shores a-crowding,
For you they call, the swaying mass, their eager faces turning;
Here Captain! dear father!
This arm beneath your head!
It is some dream that on the deck,
You’ve fallen cold and dead.
My Captain does not answer, his lips are pale and still,
My father does not feel my arm, he has no pulse nor will,
The ship is anchor’d safe and sound, its voyage closed and done,
From fearful trip the victor ship comes in with object won;
Exult O shores, and ring O bells!
But I with mournful tread,
Walk the deck my Captain lies,
Fallen cold and dead.

And here’s the Oh Captain ending to the film so I guess spoilers?

The Dying of the Light

Good morning, today I’ll share with you another of my favorite poems, Do Not Go Gentle into that Goodnight By Dylan Thomas.

Dylan Thomas was born in Whales in 1914. He was an average student who dropped out of school at age 16. He sought work as a journalist and would eventually work for the BBC. He would rise to literary notoriety in 1934 with the publication of his work, Light Breaks Where No Sun Shines. Thomas married Caitlin Macnamara in 1937. The family would struggle financially as Dylan worked as a writer. He would take on reading tours to supplement income. His marriage to Caitlin was fairly destructive and they both drank heavily. Dylan would also become a pretty big fan of American candy bars while he toured the U.S. and would add to his unhealthy lifestyle. During his fourth trip to the U.S. he fell gravely ill and would pass away at the young age of 39. It was the time in America that would give Dylan Thomas his popularity and following in literary history. I first encountered him in High School where my literature teacher had a framed photo of him hanging off the chalk board. Here’s my favorite Thomas poem.

Do not go gentle into that good night

Dylan Thomas, 19141953

Do not go gentle into that good night,

Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light

.

Here is Sir Anthony Hopkins doing a brilliant reading. Have a great weekend and keep checking in with Mid-American-Culture as we bring fresh content daily.

Posthumously Discovering the Sound.

I inherited all my Mom’s Beatles records when I was a kid. I’d spin the 45’s all day long with my Michael Jackson Thriller singles. I’d spend the weekends often with my cousin, and I’d get up early with my Aunt and we’d watch the Beatles cartoon while I nibbled on a Little Debbie cake and she had her coffee. John was my favorite Beatle. My Aunt liked Paul. It was probably 1983 or 1985. I’d see Paul McCartney doing Wings stuff, plus he had a duet with Michael Jackson, The Girl is Mine, eventually I’d ask my mom and Dad about John Lennon and what he was doing now, I knew the Beatles were from before my time. I knew Ringo was in movies, my parents had rented Caveman. Not sure about George Harrison, unaware of where he fell in my elementary school mind. However it would be answered soon in the form of his massive hit I Got My Mind Set on You.

My parents would tell me that John Lennon had been dead for a few years. Since 1980 actually. 3 years after I was born. He was shot to death outside his New York home by a fan who had sought an autograph earlier. This broke my little heart. John! The funny one from Hard Days Night. He sang my 2 favorite songs, Twist and Shout and Revolution. It was just sad and strange that someone I’d spent do much time listening to and watching was gone, and I didn’t even know it.

Of course this happens all the time. Kids are growing up listening to Kurt Cobain, Biggie and Tupac, and of course Michael Jackson just to name a few. What made me think of this was the passing of Frightened Rabbits lead singer Scott Hutchinson. Earlier in the week I’d seen he was trending on Twitter as his friends and fans put out a plea to look out for him and hoping for his safe return after he’d walked away from his hotel room in Scotland on Wednesday. I’d assumed the guy perhaps simply needed a break and took a walk. Apparently however he struggled with depression issues most of his life.

On Friday it was announced that Scott Hutchinson had passed away. Devastated fans posted pics and song lyrics. He’d taken the time to write fans back and they now were lamenting his loss along side pictures of hand written letters. He seemed like an incredibly geniune person. He had tweeted a few times after he’d gone missing just to remind people to love and care for each other.

I had never listened to the band Frightened Rabbits knowingly. I’ve done some Snow Patrol radio on Pandora and some of their songs seemed to ring a bell Friday as I played their music on Spotify. I was blown away and instantly fell in love with the sound. I worked all day listening to The Wood Pile, Get Out, and Keep Yourself Warm. I’d learned the band was originally formed in 2004 and began playing local pubs around Glasgow, before recording their first album in 2006.

So here I was sad about the loss of this talented and lovely gentleman, but also thouroughly enjoying this new catalog of music. I guess the thing to take away here is to enjoy life and keep a look out for others who may rotate into your atmosphere. Sadness and Depression can affect all of us from time to time. However for some it’s harder to shake off the shakles of despair. Be an ear to listen and a shoulder to lean on. There are hotlines available for professional help. The suicide hotline is 1-800-273-8255 use it if you need it, pass it on if you know someone else that might. Have a good week people. Look after each other. Thanks for reading and checking out Mid-American-Culture and I’m gonna leave you with some Frightened Rabbits. Peace.

The Miseducation of Ben Reilly Part 3

Marvel Comics would tease and tease Ben’s return for a decade. After lackluster sales of the 2nd Clone Saga, we appeared to be finished with the character, we had a chance but we didn’t support it. However we would have a Scarlet Spider return to comics with his own series. The big catch was that it was Kaine Parker in the role honoring the memory of good ole Ben Reilly.

I was prepared to hate this series but ended up loving it immensley. I don’t know if I just loved Spider-Man my whole life, so I enjoy variations of that character or what? This series would run for a solid 2 years and 25 issues. Ben Reilly hung over the series as Kaine tried to be a better person.

Ben Reilly seemingly was returning in this series. Kaine felt like he was being followed for a few days then suddenly in a rainstorm classic Scarlet Spider attacks him. He was confused and they fought, but it was actually Kraven the Hunter out for revenge for his role in bringing him back from the dead.

Eventually in the fall of 2016 we finally have Ben Reilly return from the great beyond. As a bad guy. Poor old Ben was scooped up by his original creator, the Jackal, Miles Warren. He regenerates him in a test tube and kills him and brings him back 26 times. Burns him alive, posions him. All kinds of horrible shit seeping out from Amazing Spider-Man writer Dan Slott. Well this eventually drives Ben Reilly insane and after the 26th rebirth, he kills Miles Warren and becomes a new Jackal. For whatever reason.

So Ben wants to use the Jackals cloning technique to end death… Or something. He’s even gonna bring back Uncle Ben until Peter convinces him otherwise. It’s a terrible story, one of Slott’s worst in his record setting run on Amazing Spider-Man. Eventually The whole Clone Conspiracy that Reilly Jackal cooked up implodes and he’s left alive, but with a jank ass clone body that was saved mid-deterioration.

Kinda looks like a generic Deadpool. Well he’s also still kinda crazy when Peter David takes over writing his new solo series, Ben Reilly: Scarlet Spider. He has an Aunt May stand in named June and he talks to himself. He answers himself in the old school Scarlet Spider persona for good things and his recent Jackal persona for bad things. Not great. However he was supposed to get a kick ass new costume and it was previewed way ahead of the new book.

But a hand full of fans screamed their white hot hate for the look even befor it hit and Marvel and Peter David immediatly back peddled and assured those people the old blue hoodie would make a permanent return.

17 issues into the book and it’s not great but it’s Ben Reilly. Peter David has worked hard to clean up the hit job Dan Slott did on poor ole Ben. A big help was having Thano’s old girlfriend Death show up and help Ben get his soul straightened out.

She sets Ben on a true path of redemption. Death tells him that his soul was splintered by all the death he endured at the hands of Miles Warren. She heals his face, but whenever he does anything bad, the deteriorated look returns.

The series really took off when the Slingers arc happened. It was the book Ben finally deserved. Unfortunately after that we had some rough Dr. Strange crossover issues. One of my favorite bad guys, Mysterio is due this summer and that seems promising. The main problem Ben has now is his sales numbers. Marvel usually kills a series below 20,000 copies a month. Scarlet Spider has been around 16,000 lately. I’m hoping digital sales and subscribers like me are helping out the bottom line. We’ll just have to wait and see. Ben Reilly has survived way worse than cancellation before.

Thanks for reading Mid-American-Culture and also today is National Comic Book Day and Free Comic Day so if you are out and about give Ben Reilly: Scarlet Spider a go and you may grow to love the Spidey-Clone as much as I do. See you next Saturday and until then, Make Mine Mid-American-Culture!