Go home Delia
Trucker trek curtailed
— Trucker Poet
“Trucker Trek” is the result of my discovery of a fabulous tool for writing palindromes, Franklin’s Palindromedary. If you’re not quite sure what a palindrome is, it’s a sentence or phrase that reads the same when reversed. For example, “race car” is still race car if you read it from right to left. A few people have even written stories, (and novels!) in palindromes. Creating palindromes is a form of constrained writing.
So this little bit of poetry, which is more or less haiku, is also a palindrome! Incorporating palindromes might just become my new favorite way to write poems. The Palindromedary (I love that name) is really easy to use and I highly recommend it for everyone, even kids. If you can read and spell and use a dictionary, you can make up your own palindromes. And check out “Trucker Trek” on the Palindromedary website.
The poem that follows is from a set titled “Starting From Paumanok”. It is a travelogue, of sorts, of Whitman’s journey west from Long Island, the modern American name for the fish-shaped island called Paumanok by Native Americans. His observations from the late eighteen-hundreds are as shockingly relevant today as they were shocking then.
Trucker Trek Convoy – Starting From Paumanok #17
On my way a moment I pause; Here for you! and here for America! Still the Present I raise aloft--still the Future of the States I harbinge, glad and sublime; And for the Past, I pronounce what the air holds of the red aborigines. The red aborigines! Leaving natural breaths, sounds of rain and winds, calls as of birds and animals in the woods, syllabled to us for names; Okonee, Koosa, Ottawa, Monongahela, Sauk, Natchez, Chattahoochee, Kaqueta, Oronoco, Wabash, Miami, Saginaw, Chippewa, Oshkosh, Walla-Walla; Leaving such to the States, they melt, they depart, charging the water and the land with names.
When Whitman referred to the natural sounds the Native Americans “syllabled to us for names”, there was yet a link between the origins of those names and the places themselves. Now those links are all but forgotten. People who see melanin as a mark of inferiority would erase those connections entirely. That would be a mistake.
We are already rootless, cut adrift from our past, ignorant of our history. Erasing history never ends well. People without a past are doomed. Without context, people change, morals shift and become little more than self-fulfilling conspiracy prophecies. In the end, anarchy rules, civilization crumbles, and a greater power recolonizes the shattered landscape.
Better to emulate Whitman and to cherish the past. Keep it at least as a reminder of how the present grew from that rich soil. When we know our history, then by our actions we contribute to the future history that we will leave behind as ancestors.
Photo Credit Photo by Daniele Levis Pelusi on Unsplash