Great American Nostalgia Train — by Laura Lee Washburn

All the places we grew up have changed.

In California, you can’t get into a restaurant.

Your Virginia Beach is guarded

by four story parking garages,

and your childhood bike is still missing or stolen.


Here in Kansas, we aren’t expecting

East and West coast overflows any time soon—

though we have room. If they came,

we would welcome their Grocery offering fresh made sushi,

their deli counter mustards, in-store olive bars,

the good kind of sesame buns, but we go now


into our Walstores for a pint or a script,

not noticing the silences and absences,

the way it might appear the benevolent aliens

have finally come and opened a gateway for half

our children and folk to ascend,

leaving us not lonesome not crowded.


The abducted folk might have gone through the gateway

into our short pasts, the remembered simple,

rather than our futures. They might have found

egg salad in wax paper and frankfurters turning

on Ferris wheel spits, the lady at the counter

crushing limes into ade and paper straws. I have

a simple list of where America went wrong:


We took down the two hundred foot dunes,

dunes taller than forest. We

filled in the swamp and the wetlands for the navy,

believed too hard in plastics, dismantled

the public works, sent the photographers home,

gave the police armored machines. My list

keeps getting longer. America,


we took a wrong turn in 1838—no—when Adams

signed the Indian Springs—No, no Monroe,

as long as the grass shall grow, with the big lies,

with tobacco, with the Dutch and the Spanish—

Oh Europe, with your fine cafes, your clotted cream,

your tea, your coffee, pain au chocolate, what,

just what have you done?

~ Laura Lee Washburn

Laura Lee Washburn is the Director of Creative Writing at Pittsburg State University in Kansas, and the author of This Good Warm Place: 10th Anniversary Expanded Edition (March Street) and Watching the Contortionists (Palanquin Chapbook Prize). Her poetry has appeared in such journals as TheNewVerse.News, Cavalier Literary Couture, Carolina Quarterly, Ninth Letter, The Sun, Red Rock Review, and Valparaiso Review. Born in Virginia Beach, Virginia, she has also lived and worked in Arizona and in Missouri. She is married to the writer Roland Sodowsky and is one of the founders and the Co-President of the Board of SEK Women Helping Women.

Guest editor Dennis Etzel Jr. lives with Carrie and the boys in Topeka, Kansas where he teaches English at Washburn University. He has two chapbooks, The Sum of Two Mothers (ELJ Publications 2013) and My Graphic Novel (Kattywompus Press 2015), a poetic memoir My Secret Wars of 1984 (BlazeVOX 2015), and Fast-Food Sonnets (Coal City Review Press 2016).

One thought on “Great American Nostalgia Train — by Laura Lee Washburn

  1. Aw…to have a college degree…….instead I went to a trade school and learned Floral Design..
    In part, living out my purpose of “Creating Beauty”…….

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