‘The essence of ROUTE 66’ … This is a phrase used to describe a collection of poems by John Powls, with accompanying Images by Carol Ballenger/Google Earth. ‘ROUTE 66: Open Road to Promiseland’ has recently been published in a volume of this British poet’s journey along this iconic North American road.
I quote from the introduction to this book of poems . . .
Steinbeck, the ultimate writer on travel across America’s vastness, gets nearest to answering the question that many ask those of us afflicted with wanderlust – Why?
We journey to fulfil a longing that our imagination alone cannot satisfy. it is essential to have seen the shimmering heat rising from the endless blacktop, to have smelt the sage as evening draws shadows across distant peaks, to have heard the ticking motor as it cools.
This is the stuff of John Powls’ poems, glimpses from the corner of the poet’s eye woven into an odyssey as ancient as Homer’s, yet as immediate as Carol Ballenger’s photographs grabbed from Google’s eye. Together these contain the essence of Route 66, a journey fulfilled not through reaching its end but through memories of what was, what might have been.
I have previously quoted one of John Powls’ poems in an article on the ‘The Touchstone’ (q.v.), erected near Princeton on Dartmoor in millennium year.
Over the next two days, I am, with John’s permission, presenting two of his poems from ‘ROUTE 66’ to give a taste of his experience as he journeyed, an Englishman abroad, fulfilling a lifelong ambition, along America’s ROUTE 66.
Navajo Nation, Arizona and Utah
The Navajo Nation
From Chelly Canyon
To Monument Valley
It is not pretty
But my word
It is beautiful
Its insistent way
And by heart
Riding the road
Horizon to horizon
To Vanishing Point
The play of light
Show and shadow
Even concrete highway
Pulsing with longing
The blacktop beat
Until the words
For new notes
An unaccompanied scatsong
Time signature by
Broken yellow median
A non-routine routine
Its a driving
The full title of the book is ‘ROUTE 66 : OPEN ROAD FOR PROMISELAND’
. . . ISBN 978 1 906690 64 7
Copyright John Powls – Poems 2016
Copyright Carol Ballenger – Images 2016
Published by Halstar (Halsgrove.com). The book is available for purchase from Amazon.com (USA); Amazon.co.uk (UK) or ordered via a bookshop who would get it from the publisher at Halsgrove.com