Featured Poet: Gordon Lang, Ossipee
Gordon Lang teaches high school English and journalism at Kingswood in Wolfeboro, NH, and dabbles in verse and the odd play or short story. He is the 2011 NEATE Poet of the Year and in 2010 he was awarded the Marlon Fitzwater medallion for his work in teaching journalism. Lang hosts the monthly Poets in the Attic readings in Wolfeboro, runs a monthly poetry workshop, has featured hither and yon around Maine, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts, and was a frequent guest on Writers in the Round on WSCA-FM in Portsmouth. He is an active board member for the Poetry Society of New Hampshire and an active coach for Poetry Out Loud. His work has appeared in various poetry journals, in the 2008 and 2010 editions of The Poets’ Guide to New Hampshire, and in his own slim volume, No Match for a Scarecrow. He is currently editing the Poetry Society’s anthology of poems about aging and memory, tentatively titled You Must Remember This.
In those brief, lucky seasons when I get to teach creative writing, I try to write along with my students and respond to the same prompts they do. I also have my students do at least as much reading as they do writing. To get my students to write poems that have movement to them, I asked them to write about physically going from one place to another. “Dos Equis” came from a unit I call “road poems.” We prepared for this by reading things such as Raymond Carver’s “Waiting,” Kurt Brown’s “Road Trip,” and George Bradley’s “Leaving Kansas City.” I told them, “Pick a road, any road; follow it to the next intersection or association or crossing animal; pick up that trail and follow it to the next crossing, and again and again until you reach some destination.”
When you drop your ex off at the clinic on North Rampart,
blow the Quarter: hang a left on St. Bernard,
you’ll be on I10 in a twinkle, so blink and pull the visor down—
the rising sun is blinding as you slide out toward Slidell,
past every Picayune post office in Mississippi.
Tip your hat to Hattiesburg, shoot Birmingham a bye-bye, then
chug on up to Chattanooga—you’ll be knocking outside Knoxville
by nightfall. That’s when things get hairy, around Marion:
you’re bleary, you shouldn’t really still be driving but
you bull on into Bluefield after spiraling down through tunnel
after tunnel and you’re so dizzy when you finally churn
into the back lot of some Dunkins you can’t recall blowing up
the donut pillow or the crawl into the back seat
when the trooper blasts his flashlight, moves you on.
Sun-up along the Alleghenies whips your ridge-run
to a frothy simmer, then ladles you down into a morning porringer,
Morgantown. In a café there, towering over a butcher block,
dark hair cocked to one side, leans your double ex,
the one before last, cleaver in hand, shaving the fruit
from shaft after shaft of corn. The new meat, some grad student
stewing in back, won’t fit in your poor chowder head: you are cut
so thoroughly loose you could cry and do, but only later, swimming
with them and a beer, far out into the man-made lake,
which seems bottomless, but for the strip mine it hides below.
More from Gordon Lang: