Duluth, I was never in Duluth, but among the poets in Washington this story:
Having grown tired of selling clothes to the idle poor, the poet bought a bike and struck out for the high plains. He taught himself to ride on the backs of the Rockies, a continent’s spine, a fat man blowing steam up a long road and empty between towns, taught himself to fear speed and love it on the ride down, squeezed perilously between the Charybdis of a rock wall and the Scylla of a passing 18 wheeler.
Well, he made it, somehow, or so they said, to Duluth, and moved into a vacant space above a storefront where he sold used clothes to much the same people as he had in Bellingham and wrote poetry much the same as before except for some 1500 miles of toil and separation. Life went on, until it didn’t.
He died there, in Duluth, not quite in exile, nor yet at home, his store and his poems the legacy left behind. The poets in Bellingham held a wake in his honor, and Robert, cynical Robert, he cried while telling the story. Duluth, I never knew Duluth, nor the poet who left, but I’ve never forgotten this story.