Two from American Vistas
by Steve Bradbury

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CANT I

With Tony at the White Horse Tavern

                                   . . . and so I said
to Ezra, “You’re a hard man to please,
but God I love the way you move!” as
we barreled down the Cathay Highway, knowing
we’d the jump on Frost at least, beating
the underbrush, eyeing the road not taken.
But I could see from Ez’s accelerated
grimace our new democratic vistas
were wearing him down when, sure enough, he hung
a hard right and hit the high road to Paris.
So there we were, just like German clockwork,
clinging to the rock of Théo Gautier,
but with Fordie en rapport and the “Possum”
pulling for us I knew Ez’ could always
hit up Quinn to tide us through while
we waited for the real Malatestas. 
Well, I no sooner had the hang of sculpte,
limne, cisèle, when Ezra upped and said:
Rapallo was the place. “Rapallo, fer Chrise
sakes! What the hell is in Rapallo
we can’t get with Stevens in the Keys?”
But Ezra snorted, “ILL NEST PAH
DONG luh MOUVEMONG MON CHER,”
and said he finally had the real lowdown
on the glory that was Greece and
the grandeur that was Rome: “USURA
rusteth the chisel CONTRA NATURUM . . .
The time has come to choose ‘tween Europe
and the Jews.” So when our treno had
arriva’d all’orario there we were,
pounding out his Social Credit broadsides
and feeding the alley cats till Laughlin sauntered
in and I got off on New Directions.
Then I heard they’d hung the Duce by the heels
and knew Ole Ez’ was toast, but I was sitting
pretty, musing ads and logos for Ogilvy
and Mather: “A breed apart. Merrill Lynch
is bullish on America.” Now there’s
an outfit that appreciates “The cash
value of the arts”—and the strophes never
seemed so sweet. That’s when I knew at last
we’d come a long way from Brooklyn Ferry.

 

 

On the “Grace Line” and Other Jobs that Take You Places

After Joseph Leeming

There was a time, not so far removed, when
an adventurous youth, tired of Omaha and eager

to travel, could start out on a shoestring and come
into his own selling oil for the lamps

of China or find his calling in the gospel of better
farming and higher living among the natives

of those ever-alluring islands in the tropics;
when a girl could turn a well-turned ankle

and an aptitude for Parlez Vous
Francais? into a memorable summer

rousing passengers for deck sports on the
“Grace Line” or the “Great White Fleet”

sailing for exotic ports of call.
Sadly, this has all gone by the board.

No longer can the enterprising sons
and comely daughters of Nebraska count

upon those opportunities to peddle
tractors to the Bolshies or press their youth and

fresh opinions on the jaded heirs of
Mittel-Europe as they thunder ‘cross the
 
puszta on the Orient Express. No more the
feel of the crowded rail or the lure of the liner’s

deep-throated call and the stewards clamoring, “All
ashore that are going ashore!”—the Blue Peter

briskly snapping in the breeze. Now
our young must find that passport to adventure

within the darkened vistas of their native
shores. But wait! This just in: “Foreign

Service opportunities for single girls
in the exciting field of undercover work,

appointment in Beirut.” Great work
if you can get it, but hurry! Steam is up,

the tide is in and, as the light fails swiftly
in the West, storm clouds loom in the distance.