Hwy 24

hwy24 poem collage

© Jill Ensley

Like the first robins of Spring,
Summer signified in the first yellow and white carnival tents,
Collecting and dispersing Chinese gunpowder and smoke, or
Fried fare and pantomimed nostalgia.
To celebrate our clutched victory, our headlong rush,
Down our own dark path

Rickety, transient Ferris wheels in rear-view mirrors,
Framed by pastel twilight, sherbert sunset.
In periphery, a cell phone pulses a rhythmic silent blue, indicating
Alerts and updates, thoughts and validations,
Answered in the fields of fireflies surround.

Endless coal trains, headed South, to the Gulf, off-loaded.
Past sleeping towns, on the outskirts.
Tracks and black dust weaving,
Subtly settling through the North, West, East.
Our penchant for blowing ourselves up.
A bloom of chemistry, of rain, of campfire.

It’s been a week.

-J. Ensley


Kentucky, two years ago… (Part II: The Reckoning)

HOO boy, it seems silly to write this right now, what with the news lately, but times are rough and people need bourbon.  Even if we’re all going to be killed by global warming, a chemical attack or radiation, that’s years from now, right.  Until then, there’s still Kentucky and there’s still bourbon.  I’ve also been sick and feeling down, so screw you guys.  You get what you get when you get it.  Friggin’ kids.  GET OFF MY LAWN!


So yeah, Kentucky.  I went there, and saw some stuff and drank some bourbon.  Not LOTS of bourbon, because I don’t remember getting drunk.  Just a nice, pleasant mellow amount of bourbon.  Maybe it was lots of bourbon, but I spaced it out a good deal and did it all responsible like, especially since I was by myself and that damn crab refuses, absolutely REFUSES, to get his driver’s license.  Deadbeat.

On my third full day in Louisville, I left.  For good reason.  I decided to finally head down to Bardstown, the bourbon festival, and a couple distilleries.  But first, we had to check out of the HILTON Seelbach.  It really is a beautiful old hotel though.


First things first, we had to get some coffee.  And do some good ol’ fashioned trip plannin’, on paper, son (remember, this was before I had a smartphone).  I prefer doing it this way anyway, it just gets harder when the tools become obsolete.  ANYway….


We drove down to Bardstown, KY, Bourbon Capital of The World.  Before taking in the festival, I decided to stop by a couple distilleries first.  The closest was Barton 1792 Distillery, owned by the Sazerac Company (of New Orleans! Ok, Metairie). They make and bottle 1792 bourbon, as well as bottling and shipping many other types of liquor.  I like 1792 alright.  In my little book, I gave it three stars, so it’s a good bourbon, mixed or straight.  It’s a little heavy on the rye for my tastes however.

The setting is very much a factory/warehouse setting, and I’m convinced that a bourbon carries it’s place with it.  How could it not?  After soaking up the wood and air in rackhouses for years and years, how could it not take on its surroundings.  Maybe that’s too froofy for you, but I love bourbon.  It’s America’s Spirit, dammit and it’s damned magical.


Jesus, how artsy is that? Yeah, that’s a medium format b/w taken with my Holga. No biggie.


X marks the spot, where 1792 is made.


This here’s a big ol’ vat of kern. Bourbon, as you may well know, is bourbon because it’s 51% corn instead of rye. And a mash that contains wheat instead of rye is a “wheated bourbon”, which are, generally, my favorites. Though I have been getting down on some rye and bourye lately.


The 1792 rackhouse.
You can learn more about rackhouses and the science involved here: http://www.whiskeyprof.com/how-a-traditional-rackhouse-works-small-batch-single-barrel/


The rackhouse is usually my favorite part, except for the tasting room. All those barrels just soakin’ up that wood with the seasons and the wind. It’s poetic, galdernit.


Mr. Crab enjoys it too.

I’ll spare you the boring photos of the boring ol’ warehouse and shipping system (but it fits in with my “bourbon carries its place” theory. Instead, here’s what Mr. Crab got up to in the tasting room and by the World’s Largest Bourbon Barrel.


He’s pretty stoked about the barrel plug, but I’m pretty sure that’s just drunk talk. Bourbon should be handled with moderation and class. Ohhhh, Mr. Crab.


Hey look! It’s the World’s Largest Bourbon Barrel!

So that’s stop #1.  Off to Maker’s Mark in nearby Loretto!  😀 😀 😀

“You Need A Black Man In Your Life.”

(recently recovered from the two-year dead laptop, circa late Summer 2008)

[“You Need A Black Man In Your Life.”]

Sunset bike ride, pockmarked streets and the sudden scent of dark Jasmine intoxicating like no Hurricane could.

[“Hey girl.”]

Mosquitos flicking, neverlanding asI’mmoving.  Fat, bleeding tires bouncing through the layers of asphalt, river silt, kissing seashells and remembering.

[“Are you married?”]

Not the recent past, but the distant never truly forgotten.  Muddy water, hopping and skipping as it pleases and no longer, no longer.  Slowly, forcefully moving in her concrete and reed dress.

[“Aww, I’m’ just messin’ with ya.”]

Dodging cars, long-distance beads from sister latitudes clattering, wrong way down the right way.  Home, and the sweat melting away with two icicles, pink and blue. A boy and a girl.

[“You be careful out there.”]

Setting the scene

It’s Sunday morning.  I’m watching my city move.

From the 6th floor, watching it rise.

A slight breeze rustles the palm trees.  A nurse, in colorful scrubs and red Crocs, hair half-tinted a reddish blonde, walks down the street singing a gospel tune and the radio quietly sings along.  Traffic is moving, like waves on a concrete ocean, trailing ribbons of muggy exhaust.  Cloudy, with tolerable early humidity and a 100% chance of broiling by noon.  It’s 9am and the methadone actors, clad in dirty black and grey, have taken their places, slowly limp-shuffling up the street.  Disappearing, only to be replaced by a kid, clad in clean black and grey, counting his money.  A couple, freshly showered, dressed in crisp white and khaki, crosses to the bus stop.  And on the corner, where a boy was shot, older men amble to the corner store, for coffee, for cigarettes, for….

Nearby, a leaf blower loudly, uselessly moves the dirt and broken bottles from the dead boy’s invisible memorial.