Traffic Jam Of The Poetic Mind

Haiku, narrative, soliloquies make my heart pound with beautifully illustrated words. Poetry is therapy for the grid locked brain. This is a form of writing which is expressive and all around fun. Like most interesting experiences in life, I fell into poetry rather than seeking it out.

As a high school student, my mom grounded me for a month. Due to a bad report card, I could not watch TV or listen to music. Home became a four-wall hellhole. In order break free, I had to rely on my own creativity to substitute for cool tunes. During that time, we were studying poetry in school.

During my month confinement, I discovered the Harlem renaissance through Langston Hughes’ eloquent words. The Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman and Maya Angelou’s poetry opened up my senses like spicy Indian curry on a rainy London night. Not only, did I admire many poets I also wanted to write my own poetry.

Growing up in a very traditional American home, I had a curiosity about the world outside my own community. It inspired my poetry. I wrote about Paris, Cubism, cigarette smoking, the Mediterranean and even homoerotic thoughts. I kept all my poetry quietly hidden in a three whole notebook with a Versace advertisement as the cover.

My goal was to share my poetry. I went to my first open mic night in college. The poets were grand. It was in the basement of this old independent coffee house. In the middle of summer, it was a gathering place for humidity and intense heat along with free thinkers.

However, poetry served as an exodus for the uncomfortable conditions. The poets were very talented and even performed free-style rap and songs they wrote, which intensified the poetic experience.

They were a tough act to follow up, but I gave it a shot. I went up on stage and was schvitizing (sweating) under the bright spot light. The crowd had faded into the darkness.

The first couple seconds of my story of rhymes was intimidating, but then I warmed up to the idea and soon my confidence grew. I made it through my first poetry reading. The audience applauded as I whipped the sweat off my brow.

From then on I continued with poetry readings. The open mic stages of obscure basements felt as cozy as my modest New York apartment.

As I grew older, I also expanded my appreciation for poets, reading the works of Allen Ginsberg, Sylvia Plath and Gertrude Stein. The four wall confinement I experienced as a youth brought a revival of creative thinking. Therefore bringing my mind from traffic jammed Fifth Avenue to a speedy Downtown 4 express train.

The Road Trippin Beatnik

Driving in through the Arizona desert in a 50’s Chevrolet while Buddy Holly’s voice echoing through the rugged terrain. Dressed in all black with cigarette smoke drifting into the bright blue skies. Destination: New York City. The penance for taking such a trip is driving through endless scenery of great boredom. Pressing on, means I’ll soon be trading in the desert, cornfields & waffle houses for Greenwich Village.

This is how a road trip fantasy plays out in my head. It’s a bohemian expedition, which exposes one to fly over state America also known as those on the fringe of New York & San Francisco culture. Sure, it’s a fantasy of mine to see those unexpectedly on the fringe places. Jack Kerouac’s ” On the Road” & Hunter S. Thompson’s “Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas” are two of my favorite books. Though some language is outdated, the stories haven’t lost what makes them interesting.

I love the beat movement in literature. Sure, it could be translated as the hipsters of the late 50’s/early 60’s. Unlike hipsters, the movement gave way to boat loads of wonderful modern literature.

I’m no beatnik. However, the idea of driving across country has always tickled my fancy. Honestly, driving is not one of my favorite forms of transportation. That’s why I loved living in New York. I could take the subway, read my paper & listen to the iPOD sans the stress of looking for a parking spot or sitting in gridlock.

In California, I’m no stranger to the car culture. As a youngster, my family & I took magnificent trips up the Central coast. We visited such charming places as Solvang, a Danish inspired town close to Santa Barbara. Cambria is the most memorable destination for our family. I haven’t been in seventeen years, but remember it well.

The pebbles on the beach, chicken fried steak with mash potatoes for lunch & the struggle to find cassette tapes that weren’t Country music still make me smile. After Cambria, we didn’t road trip much. I learned to drive, but hated it even feared it for a while.

When I moved back from New York, the moment of truth presented itself. I had to drive a car again. At first it was quite terrifying after being a subway & bus kind of guy. Back on the East Coast, my road trips revolved around the Chinatown bus, which took me from Manhattan to D.C., which were fun, but long.

To my surprise, I picked up driving again rather quickly. I drove my car from home to office without an issue. My various trips to such exotic destinations as Riverside & Palm Springs felt bohemian thanks to my very coffee house friendly iPod playlists. My favorite for road trips to Palm Springs include music by Suzanne Vega, Tori Amos, Simon & Garfunkel, Rufus Wainwright, just to name a few.

If it’s an early morning trip back to the city, I love new wave 80’s music, which wakes me up like black coffee. I like to make my driving experience euphoric. Finding street parking, getting tail gated & sitting in gridlock are pitfalls of living in car centric California.

I wouldn’t call myself a beatnik, although being around the East Village during that time seems fascinating. I do love wearing black & especially interested in our country’s collage of different cultures. Driving is a fear, I’ve overcome thanks to making it a creative experience. Listening to cool tunes, reading the funny billboards & admiring architecture + nature along the way make it a Polaroid photo for my eyes.

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