Life on Perry Lane, October 1960

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The world was on the edge of revolution, but we survived
on my husband’s post-grad stipend and what I earned
working for a mental health researcher, a nudist
we found out when he invited us to his home for dinner.
We’d rented a three-room log cabin at the top of Perry Lane,
which ran one block, embracing a shaggy maple
before it came to a stop at private tennis courts.
We coddled two dogs: a Welsh Corgi, named Mort,
after Sahl, and a German Shepherd, Mort2.
Young women streaking through our yard at midnight
was not unusual. That minds were expanding in geometric
proportion escaped us, along with our neighbor,
an elderly gentleman who fussed over his roses
outside the cottage that once belonged to Thorstein Veblen.
Dogs in tow, music booming through windows, I’d stroll
past the maple, past the rundown bungalows
where lank-haired men slouched with their beer,
sometimes a pale young woman was sweeping a front porch.
At the annual Perry Lane Olympics festivities ran nonstop
until a piano got axed to splinters, the ground was soggy
with beer and piss, and somebody called the cops.
Ken Kesey lived in one of those bungalows.
He worked at the VA hospital, but he wasn’t famous yet.
Later we heard that Jerry Garcia and Pigpen dropped by
from time to time, but nobody at our end of the lane
knew who any of them were back then.

The Elephant in England

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“The beast which passeth all others
in wit and mind”…Aristotle

I’m the fifth cousin of Babar’s wife, Celeste.
We elephants keep track of our lineages.

She invited me on holiday in London, where
we tromped from Hampstead to Kensington.

You can have the city and its amenities.
Not a single mud hole in sight. I got arrested

sloshing about in the Serpentine with a ridiculous
number of ducks, then got sent off to Whipsnade,

where I’ve become eye candy for tourists.
I’ve got all the plants, roots, and bark I can eat,

good packing mud, too, though King Babar has never
bothered to visit. Truth is, every elephant knows

the fool married above his station. Now that my teeth
are nearly ground down and I’m sick of the stench

of humans, I want to live out my days in Africa
where I can smell the sweet grasses again.

—Nancy Scott, Lawrenceville, NJ