“Southern California Wants to Be Western New York” is the title and subject of one of Dar Williams’ songs about what happens when the left coast suffers from yearning for a post-industrial crisis. On January 4, I got to read this poem along with other poems I wrote that riff off songs from Dar’s “Mortal City” album. Given that one of my most ardent fans (my son Daniel) said I should share this on my blog, here we are, and here’s a video of this incredible song.
Kansas Just Wants to Be Kansas
Southern California may want to be western New York,
but Kansas just wants to be Kansas, large and hidden in plain sight.
Too bad the earthquakes have migrated north, fracking us out of bed
to land on ground not used to shimmying. Too bad about the politics too,
shocked out of their long stay of sensibility, and smelling like
the aftermath of tragedy. Yeah, Kansas just wants to be Kansas,
weather-weary and not taking any prisoners, ready for whatever
the sky between the Rockies and the rivers storms together
past, present and future in the sweet smell of rain and heat lightning.
Kansas doesn’t want to be San Diego, swanky and silk in its
Mediterranean rags. We’re just not a picturesque Vermont town
ambling down the side of a mountain, or Texas where the heat is as intense
as the chutzpah. Kansas certainly doesn’t ever want to be Iowa,
all dressed up in its big-box statehood but with brighter ribboning interstates.
We just want to continue to be your friendly waitress at 2 a.m.,
able to carry six different slices of pie cascading down one arm,
and in the other hand, a pot of coffee, fully-loaded, ready to serve you
something that makes you forget about the desire to be what you’re not,
and remember the beauty of the wind, an old train that arrives
ahead of schedule to say, “yes, you’re finally home.”