The bend in the Old Levee Road by Abe DeVries

The bend in the Old Levee Road

(translation from frisian by L.J. DeVries)

Under a wiped clean nightsky cruising in my sun chariot
not drunk, no don’t !
but still speeding like a bullet along the narrow road
from a gunslinger fate toward the last spaghetti light.
A route cloned from Least Heat-Moon and Pirsig
but joined by StarTrek and Enterprise too.
My comet spun out of control in the glorified bend
of the Old Levee Road to ‘Yonder Rock’,
that’s Red Rock near Furgum town;
not the one buried beneath the infinite snow of Wyoming
but between more unassuming potato fields of old Barra county.

I drove dangerously, but felt salvaged from above,
cruising half outlawed through the countryside.
80 mph roaming the road touching steel smelling rubber
I tested the appearances of farmers lined up
along the remote & endless Backwood district roads.
For I knew them, their blooming field of yellow tullip,
and the red Marshallplan tractors operated by their fathers.
I knew of bodies burried under the backyard washingline.
Of Mennonitehours beyond Tzummarum town.

And I saw fields, barren wasteland.
A desert.
Sheep looked like nomad tents pitched for survival.
Farms, eave high roof mighty,
dromedaries in its vastness.
Whilst yonder traffic trekked along the distant freeway
in droves to scoop up ready gold on California’s coast,
a part cherished for most horrible dangers.

I was chased in my double lane.
I imagined a gang on horseback, fallen from the sky.
Like raptors or money madness hidden in drones.
It was – i realize now – swirling stampede dust.
But it crossed my mind it followed my tail all the way to Harlingen
or any other necessary trembling beckoning refuge.
Mitigating circumstances?
My headphones than.

The stagecoach. The snowstorm.
Double-barrelled shotgun beneath the rearwindow.
I was the scare of the Backwood region,
with many shot potato farmer on my conscience,
elegantly justified with dashes on the speedometer.
One for each horrible decision in the end.
The Northerners had their chances in abundance –
I put the pedal to the metal for I could go faster,
I couldn’t be overtaken anymore.

As fast as I drove, as slow I clearly understood:
These fields I sped across and wholly through,
seemingly bathing in evening light and illusion,
were preyed upon by earthlevellers, soildestroyers & acidspreaders.
And from my long, way too long flashback I learned
to love these fields even more than before.
I was a one-man convoy,
serving as dark space seducer of the people.

At the next crossing I called the hangman.
If he was ready.
And tear this land apart with his own hands.
Hang the noose around its neck, cut its throat with an axe.
Surely, such a thing really calmed me down.
One time only, truly interstellar, unstoppable broken adrift,
past the stead once the noble mansion of a holy knight now dead,
great peace came over me –
even the dark waited to set in –
which I lost again.

Dramatic end of this poem:
On the horizon the sunship sank beneath the skyline,
sullen, struck down & dying half hidden yet visible behind the ROP (Residual Offal processing Plant) it hindered my journey back home.
Whether with or without showdown:
it vented its revenge with a well aimed shot in my back.
There and then, without inconvenience or suffering, O Saint Brendan,
Mr. Spock escaped, listening to the (at that time)
newest Motown song.

No doubt, beam me up.
The sunset really wasn’t that fiery or happy and healthy after all.
The toxic summer we, this strange like poem and I, hold secret (clearly noticed),
solidified on local rugs under a nocturnal cross:
its westerly winds, whiskeys and radiation pills
didn’t bring me any law.
Set out? How, why? No certainly not.
The little orange night light almost glowed familiar like back home.
I turned over in my bed and calmly carried on nodding off.
Like a child, playing under dual stars,
past the bend in the Old Levee Road and burn-out
simply back home.

L.J. DeVries about L.J. DeVries. Spawned in 1963 i tell them i am a ‘ flowerchild’. Honestly that is a two-bit lie. No hippie times for me at grammar-school and college. No, madam, sir. First it was punkrock, then heavy metal and grindcore and finally the ugliness of blackmetal. All with such intensity that music is one of my sources Tony Moffeit points out as necessary to become an outlaw poet. Another key source is the discovery at an early age that the answer about what the hell is going on can only be found in books. My timeline in that perspective travels from the Bible at sunday- and grammar-school via Steinbeck, Hemmingway and Amis at college and Dante, Milton, Hamsun, Saramago and Fante in adulthood (to name but a few). Mid-twenties the devil himself urged me to become a writer. Believing I could manage the short-story Lucifer led me into purgatory. I failed. Miserably. Had to. To learn. I quit writing.

Then came Allen Ginsberg. Around the 25th anniversary of Woodstock I zapped into a documentary about him. And with him came Kerouac. And other Beats. And more poetry, ancient and modern. And the devil again too. This time rather to my avail. This time not sending me into the flames of hell to devour my words. More a satisfactory companion. And I didn’t have to sell my soul. I had to change religion. So i read the Outlaw Bible. I got to know of Micheline, Patchen, Moffeit, Sandburg, Bodenheim and Whitman (amongst many many others).

My writing is not academic, is not learned, is not conform. It is about what is going on and going down. It’s about the next layer. To frighten them. Sometimes it’s full of shit. But who cares. As long as it feeds my obsession and the wildchild in me I am happy as a ‘one eyed cat in the fish store’.

Right, let’s conclude this intro. With a snippet about language.

My mother tongue is the ‘frisian’ language. A minority tongue from the North of the Netherlands. When I write I do so in the ‘frisian’ language. Poems are (sometimes) published via a frisian literary magazine; Then I translate the poems into english at the same time deconstructing and reconstructing the whole damn thing. And the horror the horror, it shoots off into a new dimension i.e. new universe as Moffeit calls it. The other way around I am challenged to translate Micheline and Whitman into my mother tongue.
So long you bums ! Signed; L.J. DeVries. Burgum/Friesland/Netherlands.

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