RECORDS OF CHANCE ENCOUNTERS

Looking for love or friendship or simple pleasures in the lonely hours leads to Night Owls & Early Birds. These are poems of chance encounters.

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Night Owls 1

For these poems and more, visit Thistle/Flinch editions.

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WELL, IT REALLY WAS NEWS TO ME

This morning’s newspaper had a headline that sent an “Oh, gee, I haven’t seen that before” running through my head. As I mentioned the other day (Why Woodpecker Can’t Keep Up, June 14), so much of the news can be same-old, same-old variations on a theme. But this one really was new:

Motorcyclist Hits Bear.

As I also mentioned (Harley Heaven on Lake Winnipesaukee, June 16), we just had the nine-day Laconia Motorcycle Week, which attracts swarms of bikers to the Granite State, and racing along mountainous roads is one of their joys. Every year the event is accompanied by accidents and usually a few fatalities, but I don’t ever remember seeing one involving a bear. This one happened in the afternoon. Broad daylight on a perfect day.

Unlike moose, which are slow and dumb, convinced they can continue ignoring oncoming traffic, bears can be fast-moving, when necessary, and alert. Moose-car accidents are, in fact, commonplace throughout northern New England, while bear-car encounters are also a standard news item, though less frequent. I suppose I’ve seen a few moose-motorcyclist crash stories over the years, or at least should have.

This time I found myself recalling a report I’d edited and written the headline for back on my first news desk position right after college. We were Upstate New York, which has its own mountainous terrain. That time, a motorcyclist ran into a porcupine on a dark highway, and the results were fatal. As a city-boy, porcupines were still a curiosity, rather than a critter I often acknowledge in my journeys.

In this morning’s dispatch, the driver was airlifted to a hospital and reported to be in critical condition.

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Another item making the rounds also seems to slip over from one of the routine categories — in this case, political survey results — into the I’ve-never-seen-that-before status. In the race for the White House, a Democrat, and a woman at that, is polling evenly with Donald Trump in the overwhelming Republican state of Utah.

~*~

This reminds me of another reaction I often have as a novelist: “This wouldn’t work in fiction.” Accompanied by “You couldn’t invent this if you tried.” Life really does take some bizarre turns if you look.

Really.

SUSQUEHANNA / 1

She could be the street as much as the river or a town so depressed a state liquor store next to the railroad diner is barren. Or even a county clad in Holstein cowhide and forest. Ms. Suzy Q. Hannah is what we’ll call her. – poem copyright 2015 by Jnana Hodson to read the […]

SUSQUEHANNA / 2

A piece of armor or leather is not a fish. Along the rocky shoreline, a rat runs across my path and scurries back under a rock; I step again and another rustles through brittle stalks before its tan rump and tail dive for shelter. With another two steps, a third rat repeats the scuttle. Their […]

SUSQUEHANNA / 3

Drawn down to muscle “in the quiet hills of her own divinity” I bicycle across the bridge into fog at sunrise. In the night, my dreams would be chased by a train or a subway while my enemy remains on the other shore, marching and stomping: Crash! Splash! Crash! Before I swim back to sleep. […]

SUSQUEHANNA / 5

Usually, I saunter about in a shroud of music. When I cross a green steel truss bridge now reserved for pedestrians and ghostly flashes of mountain bikes, or pause in the middle on my return, it hardly matters what I’m humming. Handel, Dvorak, Johann Strauss Jr., or Showboat all could play here. You really don’t […]