Welcome. Thanks for coming. Today's photo you may recognize. It's Duluth harbor. It's there today to remind me of where I came from, Boston, another harbor city. I'm proud of being a New Englander. I'm even more proud of being a Bostonian, born and raised there. Today, my heart is full of sadness for my fellow Bostonians and even more full of anger at whoever bombed us. On the drive home today, Minnesota Public Radio had a newspaper columnist from my hometown talking about the aftermath of yesterday's horrific event. He said something to the effect that "we are a belligerent people who care mostly about sports, politics and revenge." I thought, "that's me" in that portrait, even after a generation in Minnesota, a place I have come to love, but not my home. Home, to some, is found in Robert Frost's great definition in The Death of the Hired Man from "North of Boston,"
To me, home is where I am most comfortable, most "at home." That is, and always will be, Boston, with its non-grid streets that I memorized as I learned to drive them. With its "T" and its harbor and its harbor islands and Back Bay and Dorchester, the neighborhood where I grew up in the middle flat of a three-decker with my grandmother and uncle living on the floor above and "the tenants" down below. In Minnesota, it is still April. It is still National Poetry Month. In Boston, home will never be the same. I believe that at least some of My Minnesotans know that feeling. Louis Jenkins would be one. Here's his prose poem, Back Home, from "The Winter Road" [Holy Cow Press, Duluth].
“Home is the place where, when you have to go there, They have to take you in.”
The place I lived as a child, the sharecropper's farmhouse with its wind-bent mulberry trees and rusted farm machinery has completely vanished. Now there's nothing but plowed fields for miles in any direction. When I asked around town no one remembered the family. No way to verify my story. In fact, there's no evidence that any of what I remember actually happened, or that the people I knew actually existed. There was my uncle Axel, for instance, who spent most of his life moving from one job to another, trying to "find himself." He should have saved himself the trouble. I moved away from there a long time ago, when I was a young man, and came to the cold spruce forests of the north. The place I thought I was going is imaginary, yet I have lived here most of my life.
Maybe tomorrow we can pick up again with Gary Snyder and nature poetry. Thanks for listening. Come again when you can. When you gotta come here, we gotta take you in. Rants, raves and reflections served daily.