Published by: Turning Point
Release Date: March 28, 2012
The emotional and physical landscapes in Wendy Drexler's Western Motel are as open and expansive as the West itself, and these poems haunt the spirit.
In Western Motel, Wendy looks at American life in the 20th century, from coast to coast, connecting what is disconnected, from the man on the wire who crossed the space between the World Trade Center towers to Janis Joplin in Monterey; and from the iconic destinations where ordinary life is conducted—gas stations, bowling alleys, diners—to the institutions of marriage and family, shaped and shaken by World War II.
"Wendy Drexler's Western Motel is a fast-paced road trip across a landscape of Americana: rock concerts, cruise ships, the Bolt Bus, parking lots, nursing homes, bowling alleys, Amtrak trains, diners. At each surprising yet familiar stop the poet invites us to step into the scene; each scene in turn unfolds to draw us further into the picture or send our compass spinning in new directions. There is an inward journey here as well- across the terrain of childhood grief, marriage, divorce, illness, and family life-mediated through the consolations of nature, music, art and love. Like the Hopper epigraph that opens the book, Drexler's wise and inventive poems deftly 'paint sunlight on the side of a house.'"
—Lorna Knowles Blake
"Amid so much ordinary, safe, flat poetry these days, it is gratifying to find Wendy Drexler reaching beyond, stretching to capture the makings of a life, and yes, grasping it again and again in artful ways and precise vivid language hammered into poetry on the anvil of her experience."
—Michael R. Brown
"First, a look at the imagery in Western Motel, a mature and polished collection: throughout, it stuns because it stretches the membrane between seen and felt. 'To mince into thinness . . .' announces the poem 'Man on a Wire,' a man who will eventually 'threshold the balancing pole like a bride across.' And this kind of acute vision illuminates the minutiae of nature, always in the process of 'meting out life's dry measure' for survival. Further, the wild juxtapositions, especially in the poem 'In the Kitchen' where the narrator peels cucumber and weeps about the Holocaust, create shock and admiration. But there are many such poems that balance the quotidian with cosmic interiors-a man tossing his bowling ball down the alley 'releases his quiver of sorrow. . . .' From a long poem about childhood in Colorado to the gates of Theresienstadt, the geography of pain both historical and personal is explored."
—Suzanne E. Berger
Persistence 5, Tenacity 10
-Poster on the office wall
It's 8:08, I'm twenty-
third in line, waiting
for 8:30, opening
time. Someone hands
me a clipboard form
to sign, my name,
my social, and we
are sent to sit side-
by-side on green
foam chairs. We are
out-sourced, all of us
cast up like rainbow
trout, red-capped or
tattooed, texting or
staring or reading
the weekly Phoenix,
scrim of hope. After
this, we can take a
workshop to interview
with power, critique
a resume, consider
maturity vs. age.
I'm three weeks out,
the writs of work
names, lunch mates,
watch list, paycheck,
pride. I must be my
own second cup
of coffee, strong.
Cyclone fence, the daylight spill
of grocery bags casually snagged
empty on the bare corset of a branch.
I look out at the weak light of November.
A starling on the Norway maple
in the parking lot shakes
itself out all over, spangle-singing
into the wind's wide mouth.
I eat a bacon cheeseburger in the car.
Outside the wide, wide window.
slurry of greywoodsky
a little blue. I, too, am, too,
and subject to revision, patching
potholes in my storyline.
I'm retired, I say to the office
parks through mirror glass.
How expansive, bare trees of winter!
Traffic rustles past as the Bolt
bumps on the black canals of highway.
I'm a fish thrashing in a bucket
of daylight. My life is moving
faster than my life.
Mile-High Home For The Aged
For lunch they wear clean white shirts,
Brooks Brothers jackets, everyone's hair
smoothed back. Nurses wheel them in
so we can sing "O Beautiful" for them.
Someone sips his water, puts it down.
Someone can't stop scratching.
Has he lost his ballpoint pen?
Someone is wiping eye crust
from his brow's fruited plain.
Cracked alabaster toenails gleam. Let them all
clap the offbeat's spacious skies
as long as they like.
Let them sing loud majesty, off key,
or whispered, disconcertingly bel canto,
voices flocking like swallows, shedding
their grace on me.