Jason Baldinger

Jason Baldinger
Blind into Leaving

Review by Roy Beckemeyer

Blind into Leaving


Simultaneously travelogue, ode to forgotten American workers, tribute to poets on the road in Karouac-esque search mode, Pittsburgh, PA poet Jason Baldinger’s Blind into Leaving seems an especially appropriate read in these stay-at-home-covid times. Baldinger took a poetic pilgrimage through the Midwest/Southwest and back home, visiting local bards along the way; he makes each place and experience unforgettable on these pages.


Whether it is the sky above a convenience store in Ohio:

      “there’s strange light
     filtering through low
     clouds, pinpricked they
     burst with afternoon sun
     I look up, affixed to light
     I only want rain”
          (from “wishing rain on muskingum county”),

or a gated community in Nashville:

     “driving Nashville’s safest neighborhood
     cameras monitor beyond walls
     I wait for police lights
     sure no one who makes
     under twenty k is allowed
     in this neighborhood after dark,”
          (from “molotov party”),

he pins a big crayoned “x” onto each place, making it simultaneously foreign and familiar.

Awaken too damned early to the sound of a rooster in Osage County, Missouri:

     “this son of a bitch
     the confederate general
     of osage county, crows
     every morning at the exact
     time of stonewall jackson’s
     death, this son of a bitch
     rooster believes in reincarnation

     let us cross over the river
     gather in the shade of the trees
     let’s roll out the trashcans
     wait for the meth labs
     of the gasconade to open
     the Ozarks will stand
     then fall like Appalachia
     this son of a bitch keeps crowing”
          [from “the confederate general of osage county”],

Baldinger rockets through Kansas “eight hundred miles / through grasslands / riding on the ghost of buffalo / there’s a diner with a green / chili cheeseburger waiting,” on his way to that diner in New Mexico (to me, it has to be the The Owl Bar & Grill in San Antonio, NM) (from “getting any feed for your chickens (for [Kansas poet] Shawn Pavey)”.

Along the way, he notes

     “the desert waits
     humans drink
     the water table dry”
          (from “the dust bowl again”).

Eventually, all trips end:

     “eyes focus through morning
     I blink away miles
     these last miles
     beg for mercy

     where is home again?”
     (“from a motel 6”).

Blind into Leaving will have you itching to hit the road, covid-depression be damned.

Blind into Leaving, by Jason Baldinger (Analog Submission Press, 2019, 24 pp., saddle stapled, limited run of 25 hand numbered copies), is available from Analog Submission Press. Jason Baldinger is on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/jason.baldinger.