Monday, March 3, 2014

Crossing the Bridge to Nowhere

Nowhere Near a Bridge --- Winter 2014 w/Seth Kantner near Kotzebue, AK

Crossing the Bridge to Nowhere

in my Alaska
when we cross the bridge
to nowhere
Nowhere is a city
perhaps not unlike your own
where no one
knows your name
or cares which village you came from

in your Alaska
they mush dogs through city streets
through marauding moose
live in bars and build igloos
wear flannel and fur

in my Alaska,
diminishing salmon runs
are reality
Discovery is a Sudanese refugee
widowed mother of five
learning to write a college scholarship essay,
as her first snow

in your Alaska,
re-runs of scripted reality
on Discovery
on The Learning Channel
Wild West Guns On Animal Planet

In my Alaska
the animals are our friends
our food, our fate

in your Alaska
they talk only
of drilling, of gold
of guns and good heaven
“Say don’t cha know?”
“You betcha!”
and “Polls are for Strippers
and Cross Country Skiers”

In my Alaska,
we use ski poles. 
we strip.
we kayak, climb mountains,
we’re homeless, and have mansions
fly float planes and take city busses
we’re Mexican, Samoan, Denaina,
Yup’ik, Hmong, Korean, Irish, Inupiaq,
sunburned brown
and snowblind white
and Arctic night black

in your Alaska
they would build Bridges to Nowhere.

in mine
we write to burn them

[I wrote and read this poem at the 2014 AWP Conference, for "Crossing the Bridge to Nowhere," a cross-genre reading by Seth Kantner, Bryan Fierro, Leigh Newman, and myself.]