Travel notesIssue 08 | February 2010

Channeling Ferlinghetti’s ‘Autobiography’

by Natalie Parker-Lawrence

I once started out to Dolores Hidalgo to buy pottery but ended up eating vanilla ice cream in the main square. That cerveza ice cream was much too much for me to even consider. I have engaged in bus singing, Styx and Rembrandts. I flew too near the pyramid of the sun,  I bet I’ll have to give up my seat to an old abuela, I heard my friend state. I am looking for the name of the guy who sings, Oh Baby I Love Your Way but never remember on my own. I am looking for the porn at La Cucaracha that patrons never watch. The bartenders should be better observers. Home is where I’ll Be Missing You. But Mother never told me:  I need to sneeze. I didn’t bring a tissue. I guess I need to use your sleeve. Phil-Collins weary, I wait for Godot and Flaubert and Lorca and Neruda and Atwood and Kingsolver. I sing in churches even when I do not know the words. I have seen the peppers and the barrels of beans. I have seen the mass in the Mexican cathedral where the people gathered in tight throngs like midnight mass in America, stuffed in pews, kneeling on broken tile and broken compromises, making too many little children be still and too quiet. I have heard my friend cry:  Little Stevie Winwood?  Dead?  No!  I have heard an angry salad growl, grrr. I have heard the French play classical music in their parking garages, but not in Mexico because there are no parking garages. I have slept in my hotel room while my friends peered at naked lovers through a window on the street. I have heard my daughter say:  you just missed a thousand people. I have worn dirty blue jeans and walked up to the river that was empty except for quiet sludge. I have dwelled in only one city, Memphis, where trees and houses and lives were cut down to build expressways that never happened. What old men what collection plates what crying children!  What old women with missing teeth, lives lost among roasted corn and mayonnaise and cell phone vendors!  I have seen the statue of the priest who screamed and started the Mexican Revolution in 1810, Miguel Hidalgo, riding his horse in the middle of the square, pointing peasants the way to freedom from Spain and France but not toward birth control. I know that RUSH did not sing Domo Arigato, Mr. Roboto. I have heard a hundred housebroken happy endings. They should all be ditched. It is long since I was a Catholic schoolgirl in a plaid uniform with a wool blazer that smelled like spaghetti meat grease on rainy days when you had to sit in the cafeteria at lunch or like weed when you didn’t.

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About the author

Natalie Parker-Lawrence’s is currently pursuing an MFA in Creative Writing at the University of New Orleans.  She lives in midtown Memphis in a 100-year-old house. Natalie’s new full-length play is a collection of non-fiction monologues about insomnia, Cover Me at Dawn.  Her essays have been published in The Commercial Appeal, The Pinch ,Tata Nacho Press, and World History Bulletin.

Read our current issue:

Poetry

Two poems by Anne Babson
Vignette, Townhouse, 9 a.m. by Troy Cunio
Night Becomes Day Over the West by Megan Foley
Yukon River Aurora by D. B. Goman
Two Poems by David Havird
Cretan Love Letter by Emily Linstrom
Holland by Rick Mullin
Fear in Kenya by Kristina Pfleegor
The Lounge Lizard by Ed Shacklee
Two Poems by Sarah J. Sloat
Night Flight by Vicki Stannard
Koinonia Farms by Alina Stefanescu
Thessaloniki, Four a.m. by Anastasia Vassos
Imaginary Oceans by Jason Warren
Two Poems by F. J. Williams

Postcard prose

It’s Salty by Kelly Hill

Travel notes

Anchorage in the Great Land by Karen Benning
The Value of Small Money by Megan Hallinan
Screensaver by Sandra Larson
Thirty Cents by Tommy McAree
Gokarna by Kate McCahill
Going Places by Rachel Miller-Howard
Susanville CA: Notes From The Road by Susan Volchok