Friday, December 30, 2016

Jack Scott writes


The road itself was night 

dark as space, 
studded here and there 
with random light 
streaming past as if in flight, 
as if celestial, 
but not so, 
no stars or comets, galaxies, 
only tollbooths, turnpikes, 
treadmill roads, 
rest stops begging quarters.

New England names streak past 

a flashcard for each passing town 
twenty names, related, in a row, 
extended family of 
northeastern aristocracy, 
much the same 
for every by-passed town, 
but none yet for where I want to be: 
now a name upon a map, 
unreal until I get there, 
abstraction at the end of mileage 
measured by some hick 
in love with distance 
and not so sure of light.

Six hundred miles 

of car chase on a screen, 
a game played with a fast machine. 
The prize is simply getting there. 
Six hundred miles of road, 
a one-night trick, 
stag film without a cunt or prick. 
My love is home away from home,
asleep from yawn of ten 
till well after dawn. 
I will arrive before she wakes 
however long postponement takes; 
odometer is a kind of clock, 
time and distance
 much the same, 
under observation: 
both molasses.

My eyes are tired and burn, 

but bore into the thickness of the air. 
My ears tune in the beacons of the night, 
aural outposts sharing loneliness 
until their signals fade 
and I dial the safe 
opening another. 
Tendonitis stings one driving arm 
and then its alternate. 
The body moves because I tell it to, 
the car because it’s driven.


aloof to the Thru-Way, 
adjacent by necessity 
architecture veiled by dawn, 
its dwellers deeply hidden, 
a sleepy blink from lowered lid, 
a guest for gas, then gone, 
and on through fog toward Portland.

I cannot glimpse Maine’s water, 

on my right and parallel, 
but hear imagined activity 
like a docked boat’s grinding 
against restraints, 
and feel a rising tide of memory.
I’ve always had a sense of water.

Not far to go, 

I was closer than I thought 
to Portland, right where I left it 
too many years ago. 
It didn’t have this sadness then; 
I guess I brought it with me. 
I found the place I ate 
lobster breakfast ten years past 
with beer and Bromoseltzer -
a dockside dive, clean enough 
for watermen and stevedores. 
Closed and swanky now 
with cocktails and Italian chow. 
Progress has caught up to both of us. 
Portland has a By-Pass now 
and North is further north, of course; 
its frontierness has been gentrified. 
Shedding luminescent fog 
day reveals itself. 
Having driven through my deficit 
of sleep and comfort, 
like Tantalus, 
my destination 
recedes still further north 
in space and time, 
or so it seems: 
a woman sleeping in a bed, 
myself beside her; 
until then, uncertainty, 
and the same thereafter. 
Incomplete trajectory. 
I have landed in an alien day         
indistinct upon the map. 
Rand-McNally, take a nap.

I wish I could, 
but high on sleeplessness 
between two beds, 
on tightwire spanning them 
I’m not flying, merely up, 
dangerously so. 
Down is a direction, 
gravity its compass. 
When I’ve landed 
I’ll drive on 
toward the land of you, 
or failing that, its embassy.

 Image result for maine map painting
Maine -- Florian Rodarte


  1. Maine is the northeasternmost state in the US, the largest in New England (almost 1/2 of it) but the least densely populated state east of the Mississippi river. Much of its forested interior is uninhabited and 1/2 the state is politically unorganized at th local level. In 1604 Pierre Du Gua seur de Monts (Mons) made the first permanent French settlement in North America, and the first European settlement north of Florida, on Saint Croix in the Baie Française (the Bay of Fundy), and called the region Acadia. The colony moved to Port-Royal on the south shore of the bay in 1605 but the colony was abandoned in 1607, when Du Gua's monopoly on the fur trade was revoked. However, he sent royal cartographer Samuel de Champlain, who had been with him at Saint Croix, to stablish a new colony at Quebec in 1608. In 1609 French Jesuits established a mission on Penobscot bay and one on Mount Desert Island in 1613; the same year Claude de La Tour founded Castine; in 1625, Charles de Saint-Étienne de la Tour erected Ft. Pentagouet to protect Castine.

  2. The first English settlement was the Popham Colony (at modern Phippsburg, near the mouth of the Kennebec river, then known as the Sagadahoc River) was established in 1607, a few months after Jamestown, Virginia; it only survived 14 months, however. George Popham was the nephew of the Lord Chief Justice of England, one of the colony's financial backers. When Popham died in 1608 he was followed as president by Raleigh Gilbert, whose uncle Sir Walter Raleigh (or Ralegh) had been the most active advocate of English colonization in the 16th century and whose half-brother, Gilbert's father Sir Humphrey Gilbert, had led one of Raleigh's unsuccessful efforts. Wells (in 1820 part of it was renamed "Kennebunk" -- Abenaki for "the long cut bank") was settled in 1621. "Maine" may have been named by another of the colony's original financial backers, Sir Ferdinando Gorges, who was granted a large tract of coastal land known as "the Province of Maine" in 1622, perhaps to honor his ancestral village (now Broadmayne, just southeast of Dorchester; "maine" was Welsh for rock or stone); Gorges' partner John Mason had served with the Royal Navy in the Orkney Islands, the chief of which is Mainland. Or it have been named after the French province for some now unfathomable reason. One of Gorges' agents, Christopher Levett, founded a place called York in Casco bay in 1623 at York, but it also failed, though it was followed that decade by a number of other English settlements along the coast, many of which were referred to as Main or Maine, perhaps a nautical reference to the mainland (as in "the Spanish Main"); most of them failed due to the rugged climate and rocky coastline, or conflict with the local Wabanaki peoples. In 1632 a fishing and trading village named Casco was established near the former York. Eastern Maine (the territory of Sagadahock, north of the Kennebec river, was even more sparsely settled. In 1652 both sections became part of Massachusetts Bay Colony, and Casco was renamed Falmouth. By the beginning of the 18th century only a half dozen European towns in Maine still existed.

  3. After the British defeated the French in Acadia in the 1740s, the territory east of the Penobscot river fell under the nominal authority of Nova Scotia; along with modern New Brunswick it was the county of Sunbury, with a court of general sessions at Campobello. The upper Saint John river area was part of the so-called Republic of Madawaska. The 1783 Treaty of Paris that ended the Americn Revolution was ambiguous about Maine's border with Canada. In 1786 the citizens of Falmouth formed a separate town in the Neck area of the city and named it Portland after an island off the coast of Dorset, England. In 1820 Maine voted to secede from Massachusetts and became the nation's 23rd state, but the border dispute was not resolved until the Webster–Ashburton Treaty of 1842. Portland, its largest city, today with over 40% of the population, was the state capital until 1832, when it was moved to the more central Augusta.

  4. Bromo-Seltzer, named after one of its original components, sodium bromide, was an antacid developed in 1888 by Isaac E. Emerson (known locally as "Captain Ike" after he organized Maryland's state's naval reserves in 1884). It became a popular, and profitable, hangover remedy. Bromides were banned in 1975 due to their toxicity, and another early analgesic ingedient, acetanilide, was also later identified s poisonous. In 1911 he built the Emerson Bromo-Seltzer Tower in Baltimore, topped by a 51-ft (16 m) revolving blue Bromo-Seltzer bottle and a crown, making it the city's tallest building until 1923. Modeled after the Palazzo Vecchio in Florence, Italy, its clock tower featured "BROMOSELTZER" in place of the numbers on all four clock faces. Weighing 29 tons, the sign was removed in 1936 because of structural concerns. Emerson's step-daughter married the son of president Woodrow Wilson's son-on-law treasury secretary William Gibbs McAdoo, and his daughter married Alfred Gwynne Vanderbilt, one of the richest men in the US.

  5. "Heaven"—is what I cannot reach!
    The Apple on the Tree—
    Provided it do hopeless—hang—
    That—"Heaven" is—to Me!
    -- Emily Dickinson

    Tantalos was a son of the nymph Plouto ("Wealth"), whose mother was Chthonia ("earth"), and either Zeus or Kronus. Platon derived his name from "talas" (wretched) and "talantatos" ("who has to bear much"), though it may also come from the name of two Hittite kings Tantalus and Hantili. A famous statue of Cybele carved in rock was credited to his son Broteus, though it was actually a Hittite creation. A historical Tantalos may have a ruler of a Phrygian city in Anatolia named "Tantalís" or one named "Sipylus," and he was sometimes called King of Phrygia," though the Phrygian heartland (where Lydia emerged before the 1st millennium BCE) was much further west. Other versions claimed his father (also via Plouto) was Tmolos (the son of Ares and Theogone) who was killed by a bull on Mt. Tmolus (modern Bozdağ), which had the Lydian capital Sardis at its foot; his widow Omphale succeeed him as ruler. The geographer Strabo claimed his great wealth came from the mines of Phrygia and Mt. Sipylus, and Pausanias claimed his tomb was near Mt. Yamanlar in İzmir (ancient Smyrna), where Lake Karagöl (Lake Tantalus) is located (the tomb was later rechristened the tomb of St. Charalambos). His burial place was also identified as Mt. Sipylus, where an altar or bencj dubbed the "throne of Pelops" his son was also located. Through his wife (Atlas' daugter Dione or Taygete, a Pleiad; Eurythemista, a daughter of the river god Xanthus; Euryanassa, a daughter of the Anatolian river god Pactolus; Clytia, the daughter of Amphidamantes; or Eupryto) he had a daughter Niobe and two sons Pelops and Broteas. Niobe boasted to her friend the goddess Leto that she had 7 sons and 7 daughters and derided Leto for bearing only two; Leto then sent her twin children Apollo and Artemis to destroy Niobe's entire brood. Their father, Amphion, either killed himself or was killed by Apollo for swearing revenge. They lay unburied for nine days while she fasted, and after the gods buried them, she returned to Sipylus and was turned into a stone, but her tears continued to flow from her petrified complexion. Broteus, a renowned hunter, refused to honor Artemis for his skill, so she drove him mad, causing him to immolate himself. His son, another Tantalos, was either the king of Pisa in the Peloponnesus or of Lydia and was the first husband of Clytemnestra, the sister of Menalaus wife, Helen of Troy; he was slain by Agamemnon, who then married Clytemnestra.

  6. The original Tantalos was sent to Tartarus, the deepest portion of the Underworld, reserved for the punishment of evildoers, due to one deeply offensive crime: 1) Tantalos (or his friend Pandareus) stole a golden dog that Hephaestus (god of metals and smithing) had made for Rhea to watch over the infant Zeus and then gave it to the other for safekeeping. In either case, he denied ever seeing it or hearing of it. 2) Though welcomed to Zeus' table at Mt. Olympus, he stole ambrosia and nectar to make his people immortal. 3) He cut up his son Pelops, boiled him, and served him to the gods, who rejected the offering (though Demeter, distraught by Pluto's abduction of her daughter Persephone, absentmindedly ate part of his shoulder). Zeus ordered Clotho, one of the three Fates, to restore him to life; she collected his dismemembed parts and boiled them in a sacred cauldron, and Demeter gave him a new shoulder made of ivory (made by Hephaestus). Poseidon fell in love with him and took him to Olympus, teaching him to drive the divine chariot before Zeus expelled him due to his anger at Tantalos. (Pelops then sought to marry Hippodamia, but her father king Oenomaus of Pisa had already defeated and killed 18 suitors in a chariot race. Pelops reminded Poseidon of their love ("Aphrodite's sweet gifts"), and the god presented him with a chariot drawn by untamed winged horses. To guarantee his victory, either Pelops or Hippodamia bribed the king's charioteer, Hermes' son Myrtilus, to throw the race by promising him half the kingdom and the initial deflowering of Hippodamia. Myrtilus replaced the bronze linchpins that attached the wheels to the chariot axle with ones made of beeswax, which caused the whees to fly off, and Oenomaus was dragged to death by his horses. But Pelops threw Myrtilus into the sea, who cursed him as he fell.

  7. Later, Pelops organized chariot races in honor of his father-in-law, which evolved into the Olympic Games. Pelops became a great king and gave his name to the Peloponnese, but the curse of Myrtilus doomed his family for generations: his favorite son Chrysippu was killed by his brothers Atreus and Thyestes, for which act they and their mother were banished, and Hippodamia hanged herself; motivated by Thystes' rivalry with Atreus for the kingship, he and his daughter Pelopia bore Aegisthus, who murdered Atreus, but Thyestes was deposed in turn by Atreus' son Agamemnon. While Agamemnon was leading the Greek army against Troy, in retaliation for the abduction of Menelaus' wife Helen by prince Paris, Aegisthus became the lover of Clytemnestra, estranged from her husband due to his sacrifice of their daughter Iphigenia to Artemis at the beginning of the war; the couple killed Agamemnon on his return and ruled Mycenae until slain in turn by Agamemnon's son Orestes, who then fled, pursued by the avenging Furies, and eventually married his cousin Hermione, the daughter of Menelaus and Helen. He returned to Mycenae, killed Aletes (the son of Aegisthus and Clytemnestra) and assumed the kingship. He then raped Aletes' sister, his own half-sister, Erigone, who either hanged herself or married Orestes after the death of Hermione; their young son Penthilus was torn apart and devoured by wolves in the Taygetus mountains near Sparta. Pleisthenes was another of Pelops' sons, but in some versions he was a son of Atreus and Aerope; he married his niece Cleolla, daughter of Dias, and was the father of Agamemnon and Menelaus. However, he was raised by Thyestes and accompanied him into exile. Thyestes sent him to kill Atreus, but instead was killed by him, not realizing he was his own son; then Atreus raised Pleisthenes' sons as his own. Thyestes and Atreus' wife Aerope also had another son also named Pleisthenes, who was killed along with his brother, yet another Tantalos, and fed to Thyests by Atreus to avenge the death of the first Pleisthenes. Another son of Pelops was Troezen, who traveled with his brother Pittheus to Hyperea and Anthea, ruled by Poseidon's grandson Aetius, and became his co-rulers and successors. Troezen's daughter Evopis had an incestuous affair with one of her brothers, presumably either Anaphlystus and Sphettus, who migrated to Attica. When Troezen died, Pittheus incorporated the two cities and named the new city after his brother. When Aegeus asked Pittheus for advice on a puzzling oracle he had received about whether he would have children, Pittheus got him drunk and Aegeus bedded Pittheus's daughter Aethra, who had already been seduced that night by Poseidon; her son was Theseus. As king of Athens, Thesus married Phaedra and sent his son Hippolytos to Pittheus to raise as the heir to Troezen throne. But Theseus, believing that Hippolytos had raped Phaedra, causing her to kill herself, had Poseidon kill him. When Euippus, son of king Megareus, was killed by the Cythaeronian lion, Megareus (whose elder son Timalcus had been slain by Theseus), offered his daughter Euaechme and his kingdom to anyone who despatched the lion; another of Pelops' sons, Alcathous, completed the task. Later, one of their sons, Echepolis, was killed during the Calydonian hunt in Aetolia and another, Callipolis, returned home to report the news; however, he found his father offring a sacrifice to Apollo and, thinking that inapproraute under the circimstances, snatched the wood away from the altar. Alcathous beat his son to death with a piece of wood.

  8. Tantalos' own punishment was to stand forever knee-deep in a pool of water beneath a fruit tree with low branches, but whenever he reached for the fruit the branches would elevate above his head, and whenever he bent down to drink the water would recede beyond his reach; a stone above his head threatened to crush him at any time. (His name is the source for the word "tantalize." A decanter stand called a "tantalus" had the bottle stoppers clamped down by a locked bar to prevent servants from stealing their master's liquor. When Anders Ekeberg discovered the element tantalum in 1802 he named it "in allusion to its incapacity, when immersed in acid, to absorb any and be saturated." In 1809 William Hyde Wollaston concluded that it was the same element as columbium, discovered in 1801 by Charles Hatchett, but in 1846 Heinrich Rose claimed that they were actually two different elements and that the tantalite sample had two additional elements, which he named pelopium (after Pelops) and niobium (after Niobe, the goddess of tears); but in 1864 Christian Wilhelm Blomstrand demonstrated that pelopium was just a mixture of tantalum and niobium and that niobium was actually the same as columbium.

  9. Rand McNally is a publishing company best known for its road maps. It started when William Rand, who had founded California's first newspaper, the Los Angeles Star, opened a print shop in Chicago in 1856 and hired newly-arrived Irish immigrant Andrew McNally as a printer two years later. In 1868, the two men established Rand McNally & Co. and bought the Chicago Tribune's printing business. At first they focused on printing tickets and timetables for Chicago's railroad industry, but the following year it began publishing complete railroad guides and, in 1870, expanded into printing business directories and an illustrated newspaper. During the Great Chicago Fire that burned from 8 to 10 October 1871, destroyed 3.3 sq miles (9 sq km), left more than 100,00 homeless, and killed up to 300 people, Rand McNally buried two of its printing machines in a sandy beach along Lake Michigan, allowing it to resume operations within days. In 1972 the firm produced the first Rand McNally map, which appeared in the December edition of its Railroad Guide. In 1876 its first Business Atlas, containing maps and data pertinent to business planning, was produced (today it is called the Commercial Atlas & Marketing Guide). In 1880 it began its first line of educational maps, globes, and geography textbooks. In 1899 the company's 10-story Chicago headquarters, designed by Daniel Hudson Burnham and John Wellborn Root, became the world's first all-steel-framed skyscraper; when Rand retired that year he sold his shares to McNally and other company officers; the McNally family were the majority owners for another century. Its first road map, the New Automobile Road Map of New York City & Vicinity, came out in 1904, the year McNally died. One of the firm's cartographers, John Brink, invented a system of numbered highways that was first published in 1917 on a map of Peoria, Illinois, making Rand McNally the first major map publisher to embrace such a system; it even erected many of the actual roadside highway signs. The system was subsequently adopted by state and federal highway authorities. In 1920, Rand McNally began publishing road maps which the Gulf Oil Company distributed for free at its service stations. The ubiquitous Rand McNally Road Atlas (originally called the Rand McNally Auto Chum) debuted in 1924.


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