Traveling solo … back,  forth, sideways across the country

coast to coast scouting but cautious I was

winding snakes with wheels

I carried only an old Post Office bag

empty but for a toothbrush, a sewing needle and some colored thread

preferring the company of an ocean front cave that leaked with morning  tides

a mountain stream in heat that slowly dried

Everywhere my tongue tasted the air, flavor there was

I grew a belly of  lightening and substance

pregnant with the road


40 odd years and I’m still a pilgrim. I look left. I look right. There’s a cliff on both sides. One is seductive  … the other a freefall …. staying in the middle  promises promises but is cluttered and empty. The world is held in consensus agreement … each day … which side am I on?

When my grand daughter Bella tries to touch the moon and says ” jump Nana!”  ….   I smile … and jump



41 responses

  1. okay Jana, This is real, on the road stuff. Love it. An old post office bag. I can see it. A belly of lightening…like a process of lightening …I wonder what…it was…the lightening of…..
    while in motion. In a cave. Great imagistic, experiential retelling. Thanks! p.s. takes me back.


    • Thank you Steven. The lightening?…In one way, it was the motion itself. That small window in history, in my own lifetime, when a person could still safely freefall through the country. So many people on the road… our generation taking to the road.

      I left without a map, destination decided each day, sleeping out in the open. On my way back across, many of the Western states were enacting laws prohibiting hitchhiking making it illegal, while it stayed possible in European countries … sensing the temperament of the populations I passed through..the little spiral warps of human engagement.

      The intimacy of experiencing the energy of the natural world … becoming familiar with the median strips of highways as small ecosystems, the strange silence of miles of the same crop growing, arroyo pools of aqua, live oak leaves crisping to glass shards in the building heat day after day in the dry season, the low hanging clouds below, over the ocean, pools of minnows stranded as the creek dried up, time to move on…

      The lightening? The layers within myself that were illuminated but not understood at the time, but that left their phosphorescent trail…


      • thank you for this reply Jana, it seems the poem continues in your description of what you experienced and the layers of experience. Interesting use of ‘freefall’ in relationship to a horizontal (highway) path…but it sounds like you were discovering as much about yourself in nature (and 3D nature) as you were in the scenarios and situations that happen ‘on the road.’ Fantastic. Thanks so much.


      • thank you for these thoughts Jana…your experiences bring me back to experience of hitting the road… and I appreciate your experiences and how you processed reflections & reactions into this creative response. It was a period of quite glorious personal freedom wasn’t it? (if one stayed safe) – You remember so many natural details so richly. Thanks very much for this reply.


  2. The marriage of poem and picture is pure time travel for us. A time capsule in the retelling. You fed us pieces of you that are insightful and timeless. I loved this, Jana. Gorgeous.


    • Thank you for your lovely generous comment Tiffany. I’m reflecting lately on that fine bright line running through my life that is so real, so illuminating…and so tricky to hold on to. I want to know exactly what it is and make it intimate…no fuzzy edges of shadow…inseparable. xxoo


  3. The cave is a good place, Jana… and the risk. I appreciate the paradox and tension, navigating between life and death, comfort and perilousness, where one becomes it’s opposite in a breath (does that make sense?). Anyway, thanks for your words.


    • The cave was an actual place, Jack. I slept on the ground most nights for the two months I was on the road traveling. I was naive about morning tides! The trip was a heightened experience in freefall. It would be highly perilous…impossible… today to undertake anything similar… a small window of possibility that I sensed closing behind me as I headed back home.

      At the time though, it wasn’t much different than jumping on my bike after school and heading to the woods. No one tracked our comings and goings as long as we were home for supper.

      But the navigation you allude to? That’s what interests me in this reflection…the internal metaphors still present in my life….that thread of continuity…that beam of light.


  4. I read that you grew a belly of “lightning” and substance. Several times, so it must be true too. Gracefully bending, emerging, surfacing…pilgrim. Lovely Jana.


  5. “Pregnant with the road”…yes, indeed, perfectly said Jana…I too, so many of us were, wanting to give birth at that fertile time to another vision of who we were…moving dots creating “phosphorescent trails” across the landscapes of north America, prizing open each experience like oysters expecting pearls but so often finding only a single gulp of briny satisfaction. Your poem evokes so many memories…days of adventure and travel, open and free, thumb wagging in the dusty weeds and heat of prairie, beneath ancient pines or perched precipitously against cold rocks on mountain passes. Yes, metaphors now as we move across different landscapes but still waiting for that perfect ride…thank you for your words, I met you and many of your kin on the highway and will never forget all the shining companions of those years…


    • Your own “road poem” touches those really deep chords, John, thank you for them… I don’t mind being overwhelmed with emotion I can’t even put into words.

      and I wonder now that this other poem written, just a short while ago, was also inspired by the experiencing of that all too brief time before all that holds us tight accelerated.


      Jana xxoo


    • I’ve been contemplating the stillpoint, Virgilio,
      as each moment
      awareness..being… in each moment
      in a perpetual wave of movement
      encompassing both stillness and motion
      … a perpetual becoming
      in both substance and velocity
      Thank you for your graciousness in sharing your view of this Virgilio…


  6. What’s in your head and heart was freely translated to word, a deep and beautiful freedom.
    Thank you so much for following and presenting me with the opportunity to discover your wonderful world! Eddie


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