Monday, June 4, 2018

On the Road: A PW Covington Roadtrip (Paying for the Gas)

photo © Mark Butkus 2018
We were San Francisco curious and decided to commit poetry.

A tattered copy of Sirens of Titan
is chosen over bad motel TV
at the start of a five state road-trip

Coffee, sleeping pills and truck stops
four dollar gasoline
seems all too much to spend for poetry
and words of witness shouted into the irrelevant abyss

Our Nation is still a large, large place
every bit a big as it seems
when you step away from diplo-speak;
war on drugs, red state/blue state scenes

Miles seem longer and horizons farther
once you get yourself out West of Abilene

Soaring over landscapes at 30 thousand feet
like invading armies, to drop from the air
can not compare to time and investment
involved in the task of driving there

Coastal Plains turn into desert
like the dryness that sometimes desiccates my soul

But climbing ever higher, shifts things greener
Not through rain or storms but elevations
Altitude
Attitude; the angle of approach

Driving on with four wheels firmly planted in nothingness
Crossing state lines in the dark
as if they meant something…anything at all

Roadside poets and alley-cats
Discordant music and pork-pie hats
Superstitious mountains
Rippled nipples peeking from silky chemises
Rock shops and cycle cops
Adding air to the left front tire in a Las Cruces parking lot
Lower Pima County steam-punk truck stops

Free speech in Phoenix, confined to an alley
History of longevity, and that one mother-fucker of a cat
From a Bukowski paper-back
Driving onward, through Maricopa darkness
Like Kerouac, with the back-seat packed

Don’t give up, Don’t give up
Don’t cry, Don’t die
Don’t scream
They’ll get you then

And the sun will come up,
If you lose or if you win
Take away the take away
Burn minutes into miles
Like it has always been done
Caffeine, Nicotine
Grass, and desert sand

Sand-stone Arches
Green sheen north of Moab,
Keep going, keep moving
Shiprock, ship-wreck, Colorado line
It just takes time

Time is all you have,
with the hours of your life

You’re only paying for the gas


— PW Covington


We bit on the sticker at the bus stop in San Francisco and checked out the website of PW Covington. It tells us that, "PW Covington's writing is raw, powerful, and carries the voice of his hard-lived curriculum vitae. His poetry and prose is undeniably of Beat lineage, and his words have the power to carry the full weight of desperate yet hopeful experience."

PW Covington has published five volumes of poetry: 77901: A Collection of Shadorma Poetry (2016), Sacred Wounds (2015), I Did Not Go Looking For This (2013), Like the Prayers of an Infidel (2010), and his latest, The Motor Hotels of Central Avenue (2017) that PW is promoting through a speaking tour.

The Bar None Group is on its own summer tour and checking out poetry on the road — coast-to-coast. In San Francisco, a link to a website on a bus stop sticker lead us down a rabbit hole to the PW Covington poem, Roadtrip (Paying for the Gas).