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Goodbye Jerusalem

"I don’t remember the valley falling away"

Published onFeb 26, 2024
Goodbye Jerusalem

Photo by eberhard grossgasteiger: Pexels.com

In the middle of town
there was a billboard, faded, timeworn
for Butchart Gardens
another 590 miles away.
I don’t remember looking at it that last day.
There is a metal dragon statue
slithering on the east side of I-5
just out of town.
I don’t remember marking it when I left.
I don’t remember the valley falling away
in August variations of tan and brown
broken by hearty and struggling oak trees and
stray volcanic rocks that rest on the landscape
like chocolate chips.
All of it swept up toward the enormous mountain
its cone and peak obscured by an afternoon cloud.
I don’t remember checking my footlocker
at the Medford airport.
I don’t remember getting my ticket handed to me
or holding it or handing it to an attendant
or looking at it nervously as I find my way to the seat
one among so many other identical seats.
Instead, I recall
sitting on the plane before it taxied away.
Looking out the window
I saw my mom from far far away,
one hand laced to a chain link gate
tears in her eyes,
my dad’s hand on her shoulder.

When we finally took off
I looked out the window
to glimpse after the jumble of the Siskiyous
found the line of I-5 through my town
flowing through it like a molten grey river,
then the colossus of Mt Shasta,
then everything after.


Marc Janssen has been writing poems since around 1980. Some people would say that was a long time but not a dinosaur. Early decrepitude has not slowed him down much; his verse can be found scattered around the world in places like Pinyon, Slant, Cirque Journal, Off the Coast and Poetry Salzburg also in his book November Reconsidered. Janssen coordinates the Salem Poetry Project- a weekly reading, the occasionally occurring Salem Poetry Festival, and was a nominee for Oregon Poet Laureate. For more information visit, marcjanssenpoet.com.

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