Detours and Diversions


Poems by

Nancy Scott

Poetry chapbook, 42 pages, $7 cover price

($5 if ordered from the MSR Online Bookstore)

ISBN: 978-1-59948-299-6

Released: 2011

This Limited Edition chapbook is part of Main Street Rag’s Author’s Choice Chapbook Series.

Nancy Scott
Nancy Scott is the current managing editor of U.S.1 Worksheets, the journal of the U.S.1 Poets’ Cooperative in New Jersey. She has had an eclectic career as a caseworker for the State of New Jersey providing services to homeless families, abused and foster children, others with AIDS and/or mental disabilities. She has also been a researcher, consultant, building inspector, paralegal, day care director, journalist, foster mom, real estate agent and now, in addition to her poetry, she is creating and exhibiting her artwork. Her other poetry books include Down to the Quick (2007) and One Stands Guard, One Sleeps (2009) both published by Plain View Press, and a chapbook, A Siege of Raptors (2010) published by Finishing Line Press.

To enter Nancy Scott’s Detours and Diversions is to enter a world full of paths that lead to unexpected places. Relationships go awry in surprising ways, chance meetings of strangers become oddly significant, memories may or may not be reliable. This is a book of riveting stories–sad, funny, offbeat, wry–told by a variety of narrative voices. They invite us to “Imagine an emu, one of the few flightless birds/ on this planet, handcuffed and taken into custody,” or to feel what it’s like when your name is no longer familiar. A dishwasher substitutes for a child, art is edible, when old friends talk, “words turn too rich, like eating the last crème puff when you’re full up.” Metaphors, used judiciously, add to the surprise: “a blitz of flashbulbs,” “a tirade of lightning.” Nancy Scott’s new book takes the reader on a delightful, sometimes dizzying, trip to unanticipated destinations.

Betty Bonham Lies
author of The Blue Laws

The Dreamer

Her husband had been gone four days.
On the third night, she began to be afraid.
The thatched roof had sprung leaks.
The children ran with buckets to catch the torrent
of rain, which threatened the miserable cottage.
He’d promised to bring food, but now she fed
the children dandelion greens and brambleberries.
Under cover of rain, she sent the oldest boy across
the meadow to steal eggs from the neighbor’s coop.
The meat, cured and hung in the larder, long gone,
her husband had set out after a fresh supply.
How many times had she begged him to find
regular work, like whipping mules at the grainery
or sorting nails for the village ironmonger?
No, he was a dreamer. He’d take a jug of malt,
a wrapper of bread and cheese, and curl up
under the bridge, sometimes for days,
waiting, hoping, for that one stray goat.

Why I’ll Never Fly across Montana Again

In 1960, I boarded a milk run from Bismarck
to Portland at night in a summer storm.

I took a seat next to a cute dark-haired sailor
headed home on leave. If he told me his name,

I wasn’t listening. I wouldn’t let go of his hand.
The turboprop bucked like a bronco with a burr

under its saddle. We landed in Billings in a tirade
of lightning, then Butte where my sailor dashed

through hail to buy me a candy bar in the terminal.
In Helena, he kissed me good-bye and was replaced

by an elderly woman. Taking off, we skidded
on the tarmac, climbed too steeply, banked too hard;

I thought This is it. The woman reassured me,
Don’t worry, honey, we’ll make it, while trying

in vain to wrest her arm from my death grip.
On our approach to Missoula, we were bounced

about like popping corn, then we dive-bombed
through the clouds. No passengers got off or on.

At 4 a.m. we landed in Portland, its sky full of stars.
I was twenty-one, alive, hungry for solid ground.

I staggered into the terminal where my weary aunt
snarled, For Chrissakes, why didn’t you fly direct?

Stay on the Path, Mimi

On this brilliant October afternoon,
four-year-old Leah and I
take up our branch walking sticks again
and start our trek around the small lake,
the man-made fountain rippling water in circles,
forcing squawking wild ducks to the reeds,
and the ground is covered with bright leaves,
which Leah stoops to examine,
then hands me a perfect red maple one,
and soon I’m carrying a pile of leaves,
three feathers, and my pocket jiggles
with small stones, but toadstools Leah pokes
with her stick, Don’t touch, she says, they’re poison,
and as we turn the next bend deep in the woods,
something crackles the underbrush, and Leah says,
There are snakes, Mimi, so stay on the path,
and she tugs on my hand, but a hundred feet ahead,
says, I’m tired, and I’m thinking how can I carry
this forty-pound child, if she can’t make it?
so I ask, Can you still walk? and Leah says,
Yes, I just stay on the path, and I think how I
never followed the route laid out for me, rather
took shortcuts, diversions, for better or worse,
but as my granddaughter scampers ahead,
full of herself, the day, and the woods,
I don’t want to be anywhere else
except on the path that has brought us both here.

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