Billy and Valencia went to sleep nestled like spoons, and Billy traveled in time back to the train ride he had taken in 1944--from maneuvers in South Carolina to his father's funeral in Ilium. He hadn't seen Europe or combat yet. This was still in the days of steam locomotives.
Billy had to change trains a lot. All the trains were slow. The coaches stunk of coal smoke and rationed tobacco and rationed booze and the farts of people eating wartime food. The upholstery of the iron seats was bristly, and Billy couldn't sleep much. He got to sleep soundly when he was only three hours from Ilium, with his legs splayed toward the entrance of the busy dining car.
The porter woke him up when the train reached Ilium Billy staggered off with his duffel bag, and then he stood on the station platform next to the porter, trying to wake up.
"Have a good nap, did you?" said the porter.
"Yes," said Billy.
"Man," said the porter, "you sure had a hard-on."
Okay, I am way too tired to even deal with the last line of that passage. Billy is on a trip home. I am on a trip to Sault St. Marie, on the east end of the Upper Peninsula. As far as I know, no hard-ons were on display today. Just four-and-a-half hours of driving, with one short breakfast break.
I came to the Sault to read at the Bayliss Public Library as part of its Poetry Reading Series. It is an event that has been months, and many e-mails, in the planning. I received such a lovely reception from a group of about 15 or 20 people. (That may not seem like such a big audience, but, in poetry circles, that's almost the equivalent of a Rolling Stones concert.) So excited.
I read for about an hour, old stuff and new stuff. Sold about four or five books. Not bad. Got a chance to connect with some friends, old and new. And I got snickerdoodles. I couldn't have asked for a better night.
I am a little exhausted now. It has been a long day, and tomorrow promises to be busy, too. We are going to tour the Soo Locks, possibly go on a boat ride. Then we're planning to stop at Tahquamenon Falls on the way home. Maybe take a few pictures.
Saint Marty is thankful tonight for poet friends.