Wild River Books

Anatolian Days and Nights: Rumi and Coke


On a frigid December night in the central Anatolian city of Konya, our friend Bekir paces in the doorway of our hotel, his breath creating arabesques of steam that drift into darkness. In front of the hotel, neon signs on lampposts illuminate white-robed dervishes, hands in mid-twirl. “Oh, my friends,” he says, when Angie and I alight from our taxi. “I was worried something terrible had happened and you wouldn’t make it time for the festival.”

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Anatolian Days and Nights: The Steamy Side of Istanbul

steamy side of Istanbul

Our taxi enters Sultanahmet, Istanbul's oldest quarter, through Catladikapi, the cracked-marbled gate. It rumbles over cobbled streets once traversed by emperors and sultans, and stops in front of our hotel just inside the red-stone Byzantine sea wall.

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Body and Soul: Escapes

Body and Soul excerpt After emigrating from Scotland, my father’s father built a handsome Victorian home on land just outside Owensboro, Kentucky, in 1873. In the 1940s, my parents and I lived in a rented house in Owensboro, but I felt that my true home was the Victorian establishment.

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Brief Eulogies at Roadside Shrines – Arnold’s Roadside Café: Route 80, North Platte

Panning for Gold This here's a sculpture, you could call it that. I tied it to the telephone pole so it don’t blow away. Took some doin' to get it up that high, looks like fifteen feet. Keeps the vandalism down, and you can see it from a mile up the highway. The cross's made of bones, coyote most likely.

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Brief Eulogies at Roadside Shrines: A Celebration of Shrines

Lyons - Celebration of Shrines - cribbage board

“Here’s one of my favorite shrines: the cribbage board my father and I used for forty-five years, at least a thousand games. The perfect space we made together.”

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Brief Eulogies at Roadside Shrines: Holy Roller

brief-eulogies-pr-circleOn first look, Anthony don’t look special, your basic white bird. But I assure you he wasn’t no dumb street pigeon grubbing for handouts. I climb up here every once and awhile to check up on him, make sure he’s secure and all. Feel that breeze. Helps me breathe, like things are all right. Look close there, see that breast, how big it is? Like a goddamn weightlifter.

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Brief Eulogies at Roadside Shrines: Security Risk

brief-eulogies-pr-circleHe straddles the round stool, green Naugahyde with a stainless steel rim, ninety degrees to the right, then back to the left, listens. A metal-on-metal low-pitched screech, like a trolley car braking, not a way to promote digestion. He spins the stool seat next to him. That's better, metal-on-grease. He slides over one, has the mauve Formica counter to himself.

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Brief Eulogies at Roadside Shrines: The Tallest Totem Pole in the World

Lyons - totem

I’ve been working the lines for ten years, for Canada Power (you know their TV commercial: CaPow!–We light up your life—then the camera zooms in on an Eskimo family in an igloo reading by a hundred watt bulb). A recruiter came around our village on Vancouver Island, looking for a few good natives to run electric towers from Nanaimo over the mountain to Tofino. You know what they say about how we’re not afraid of heights, work at a hundred-sixty feet like we’re on the ground. I’ll tell you something: I’m terrified of heights.

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Brief Eulogies at Roadside Shrines: Tlaxcala Red


Isidro Tumax paints the walls of Tlaxcala. He rides to work on a pedal tricycle that appears to be put together backwards: two knee-high spoked balloon tires in front connected by a four-foot axle, the seat over a single tire in the rear. A wire-frame rectangular basket sits over the front tires, filled with the colors he will mix: an eight-liter plastic container– la primaria– the basic ochre red; four liters of la primaria heated until it deoxidizes and assumes a deeper, darker hue, like drying blood; four more liters of earthy brown ochre mined from manganese-tinted clay beds.

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Introduction to Brief Eulogies at Roadside Shrines: The Borders That Divide Us Are the Places We Find Each Other

Lyons - Brief Eulogies

escansos–resting places–the roadside shrines we pass on highways and rural roads, are small monuments that announce the place and moment of a stranger’s demise. They mark an untold and mysterious history of the deceased; and they hold a story of the person left behind who built the shrine, and returns on anniversaries to re-arrange the plastic flowers and apply whitewash. These shrines bind the leaver and the left and hold the stories that brought them together.

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Nightshift Daywatch: Emily at Amherst

thompson-nightwatch-circle Whenever Emily attracted in To her singled crowded room Errant angel and storied jinn, Antic poetry began to loom: Not the cart’s trochaic chant Not the cantered anapestic trot, And not the preacher’s pious rant—

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Surprise Encounters: Christo!

Christo installation When the Council on Foundations moved from New York in 1974, where 40% percent of the foundations were located, to Washington, DC, a lacuna prompted us to create gathering opportunities for grant makers. The Foundation Luncheon group was formed for monthly luncheons where we heard from such folks as Nelson Rockefeller and Ralph Nader, both big draws. When it was my turn to invite a speaker, I recruited and introduced Philip Morrison, a distinguished theoretical physicist from MIT who was of international stature and, reputedly, a dynamic speaker. 

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Surprise Encounters: Sorry, This is a Private Party

Langston Hughes and Gwendolyn Brooks The year was 1996. The place was Waterloo Village, New Jersey. Through great good luck, Gwendolyn Brooks (1917–2000) accepted our invitation to return to the Dodge Poetry Festival, where she was again a hit. She was an American Poet Laureate at the time when the post was called Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress. She also encouraged and welcomed the poetry of children and often sent them a check for $25, $50, or $100 from her home in Chicago.

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Surprise Encounters: Ten Thousand To One

mcvay-10000t01-circle "If there is one feeling that underlies religious belief, of whatever kind, perhaps it is the wonder that human beings feel at the irrefutable fact that something exists. It could, after all, have been the case that nothing exists. Scott McVay, more than anyone I know, has journeyed through life as if always in the company of that sense of wonder, and it affects the way he sees things. Some things everyone looks at—whales are slaughtered, Americans don’t know Chinese, poetry wants attention—but Scott sees what he looks at. Then he taps the rest of us on the shoulder to wake us up."

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There’s Always Another Side to A Church Lady

church ladies In the 1930’s the ladies of Bethel AME Church in Pennington, NJ made aprons to raise funds for their church. Using scraps of old dresses or whatever was available, the ladies gathered around pedal sewing machines or lovingly hand sewed aprons they sold for five or ten cents. As a salute to the humble work of our elders, we have designed “Church lady Aprons” which is a “blinged out” version of the originals. Mind you, they are not to be worn while butchering hogs or wringing the necks of chickens! Wear them while entertaining or just because you like the way they make you feel!!

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Wild River Books – Surprise Encounters: Looking for a Sign

McCoy Poetry Trail A young man, John Kraft, who worked at Waterloo Village in northern New Jersey, had over several years built a little village reminiscent of the Lenape Indians who used to live in those parts. John was not uninformed since his father, Herbert C. Kraft (1927–2000), had been the lead scholar on the Lenape for years and a professor at Seton Hall University.

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