True Places Never Are

by Jonathan Vassar

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In the Allegheny Mountains of Tucker County The Blackwater River flows through Canaan Valley into Blackwater Canyon and Blackwater Falls Where the river takes a 60 foot drop. The tannin and rust of red spruce and hemlock Darken the water and give the river its name. My family visited once when I was fourteen. We all hiked to the falls during the day. But what I remember best is the sky at night. You can see thousands of stars when you’re up that high. We lay on our backs in hopes to find the North Star so we could try to trace the little dipper with our flashlights.
Kerr Lake 01:46
Under a virginia pine I gather dry needles Into a welcome mat outside my tent The fragrance sharp and sweet It reminds me of summers growing up. family camping at Kerr lake. A sandy Beach and pine trees. Once it stormed so hard we had to sleep in the car. 6 year old me, scared in my mother's arms.
Big Meadows 02:55
My picture of you changes whenever you’re around. Now in your favorite blue blouse. Which reminds me of how when we were walking through big meadow at sundown, the pink and yellow sky was perfectly offset. There i was and here i am, to simply reflect what you project Here you are doing what you do best. And knowing you it's nothing short of a revelation; revealing so little standing between us in relation to everyone else.
In 1987 my family drove out West. 3 weeks out on the road through Kansas and South Dakota ending up in Colorado. We camped in a pop-up trailer that should never have been hitched to our car. The destination: the Sinclair family reunion in the Black Hills national park. My sister was twelve and may have resented that I was just seven years old We fought about as much as you’d expect, Dad had Graceland on the stereo Layered rock formations, steep canyons and prairies, Beds of fossils from forever ago. The beauty and heat of the badlands impressed me, plus Pine Ridge Reservation was close. The youth group from our church would go there in the summer on mission trips to build homes. Mount Rushmore was ok, I guess it was impressive, great faces great places, they say But I expected it to look real big, instead it felt kind of far away. In Deadwood I got a book and a lot of ideas about Wild Bill and Wyatt Earp, A revolver with caps, some leather fringed chaps, and an honest to god whip --all good things to aggravate my big sister with. We broke down in Custer On the way up a mountain, My Mom yelled “We’re all going to die.” So much for our transmission, So much for Yellowstone, I thought : So much for being alive. We spent most of the day at the body shop, where I practiced cracking my whip. I remember the whole family fought And that’s when i began to feel sick. In Rapid City, the city of presidents, the gateway to the black hills. We stayed with the Scotts, watched King Kong and enjoyed some home cooked meals. They gave me a hand me down Rambo with a belt of bullets and a sub machine. We went to a restaurant with a high dive show--or maybe that last part was a dream, I don’t know. On second thought, it was Denver Colorado I don’t remember much about the Sinclair reunion, except I got sick at a Dairy Queen. We went out driving with our moms cousin Gary, and i got sick in the jeep. Our last stop was Fort Collins, Colorado, to visit my mom's brother Mark. He was a runner sponsored by Nike, and had a parrot named Brutus that talked. Aunt Wendy took us for a drive in the rockies. We came to an overlook, where we got out and walked up a ridge. The higher we went, the more concentration it took just to breathe. At least that’s my memory. On the trip back all I recall is that I made my sister sick. And that It seemed a lot shorter for us to get home-- How it does on that kind of trip. In 1987 my family drove out west.


released July 17, 2019

Music & Lyrics by Jonathan Vassar
Songs recorded on a GE 3-5015 // Slim AC/DC Cassette Tape Player & Recorder.

Instax Photograph by PJ Sykes:

For Rosalita Marie


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Jonathan Vassar Richmond, Virginia

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