Tuesday, May 27, 2014

The Summer of Strat-o-matic

The summer theme continues...but I am having a devil of a time finding pictures of the old Married Student Housing (aka Westmoreland) from the 1980s.  I gather that the old buildings have been torn down to make way for fancier surroundings.  Ironically, it looks like the buildings at Amazon remain.  Those were in sad, sad shape, but St. Vincent de Paul has rehabbed them as low-income housing.

The pictures above give you a bit of the flavor of Eugene back in the day.  The first picture on top is of the Eugene Saturday Market.  It is by Stuttermonkey and comes from Flickr via Wikipedia.  The second is of Westmoreland--which hasn't been torn down but is now part of the private sector.  The third is of the University of Oregon's Deady Hall, which hasn't been privatized yet.  I think that I might have taught freshman comp in that building.  

In any case, the poem below recaptures an different flavor: my first encounter with a 7-11 and a misspent summer playing Strat-o-matic basketball.  It was not all free verse and Puritan literature and Victorian novels and organic food and sugar-free blackberry muffins in Eugene!

Eugene Summer Games 1988

Neon soda
and berry slush buzzes
above the freezers
and refrigerators.

Bright lime greens,
lemon yellows, sweet oranges
 harden and congeal.
The air is sticky,
thick with sugar.

In the back, Ms. Pac-Man shivers.
No one loves her anymore.
Or at least not right now.
Ernie walks out
with Little Debbie
and a Big Gulp.

On a picnic table next to the Oregon grape
at Married Student Housing,
Game Six of the Strat-o-Matic World Series
is about to begin.

This poem was published in [Insert Coin Here], another of Kind of a Hurricane Press' anthologies.

Hard to believe but this poem was a response to one of Reuben Jackson's prompts at the Writer's Center.  He asked us to write a poem inspired by "Ernie's Tune," a piece by Dexter Gordon.


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