Looking back on a summer road trip with a poem
St. Paul, Minn. — With kids back in school and fall colors starting to creep into Minnesota, it's time to say farewell to summer.
St. Paul Poet Todd Boss sent us this look back at his summer road trip in his poem, "Luckenbach."
Boss' first collection of poems is called "Yellowrocket". It was released in Europe, Africa and the Middle East over the summer.
It took five metropolitan airports
to bring my mom and dad and
my sister and me with our kids,--
three generations--together again
for our first family vacation in
years. Our ears were still ringing
as we untangled the ropy wrangle
of roadway out of San Antonio
and into Hill Country, where,
after three days of seeing what
the guidebooks said we had to see,
my sister finally persuaded us
to hit the sticks off Ranch Road
1376 until our rental cars rocked
to a stop in a gravel lot beside a
weathered shack in a thick shade
made famous in that country song
a ghost of a ghost of a ghost town,
a stable of well-broke picnic tables,
a platform stage, and a dance hall
patched with tin... it wasn't much,
but as the sign by the roadside said,
it was good enough for anybody
to be somebody in.
We sat down.
The kids ran around. We found us
four Shiner Bocks at the bar in
the rear of the shack where some
white-haired boys were picking the
Atkins and Robbins and Ritter out of
their Fenders and Gibsons and Taylors.
We could almost feel the pegs un-
twisting the tensions in our shoulders.
We started dropping g's from our
i-n-g's. You are here, said our inner
locators--right here. Something
earthen was in the air. My sister
pushed her sunglasses up into her
hair, and grinned at me like I was
And brother, I don't
care how slick you are, there's a
hick in you somewhere, some
folkie in a tie-dyed T. You don't
belong in your dead-end job any
more than we belonged in that
dead-end town, but we pick our
dead-ends in the end, don't we,
My mom and dad don't
farm anymore; my sister
manages info-tech. And as for me,
I live in a city where only recently
did I begin to let my small town
farm roots show.
I've been a fool.
But as our cars ticked cool under
Luckenbach's moon in the crazy
calm of that afternoon, and the
roosters crowed, and the whole
hollow glowed in a sepia haze...
it seemed our ghosts, at last
restored, out amongst the ghosts
of that ghost town poured, and,
hitching up their things, got down
to the dizzying business of two-
stepping up the fence-posted avenue,
and around and down through
leaves to the creek, cheek to cheek,
to the music ghosts love most--
And now I can say it like I knew it
all along: That crick in your neck
is the heck you've got from being
somebody you're not.
okay, 'cause as the old folks say:
Somewhere they're playing your song.
- All Things Considered, 09/16/2010, 4:46 p.m.