On/Off the Beaten Path

Author: RD Armstrong
Genre: Poetry, Trade Paper, 6 X 9 Digest size
Publisher: Lummox Press (PO Box 5301 San Pedro, CA 90733-5301) www.lummoxpress.com
ISBN: 978-1-929878-99-4
Pages: 114

Publishing Date
: June 2008

Retail: $15 + shipping

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On/Off the Beaten Path by RD Armstrong is the second book in a series of four that showcases the poet's craft. It is a collection of three long poems describing Armstrong's adventures during successive trips to San Francisco (1999), Albuquerque (2000) and Seattle (2001).  Each trip has it's own pivotal moment upon which the journey is defined...the most precipitous being the final poem (RoadKill) which occurred during Sept. 11, 2001 (the Baby-boomer's Pearl Harbor).


"Raindog’s [RD Armstrong] addition to the literature of the open road is one in which he finds both isolation and community.  Ghosts of the past haunt the stark grandeur of the Southwest landscape, but there are kindred spirits out there as well, poets like Mark Weber and Todd Moore who, as Raindog does, possess the builder’s skills as well as the poets.  The reader who finds Raindog in this poem may find himself as well. Weber, Moore and Raindog [RD Armstrong] are three old pros resigned to the lifelong challenge of getting life, of which they’ve seen a lot, into language."

Gerald Locklin (On/Off the Beaten Path)


"It's a good read, very much in the tradition of On the Road.  

But  whereas most post-Beat Beat-influenced literature  boils down to dreary, anachronistic imitation,  there's a freshness, a snap and an innocence to Roadkill.  The heart of a way of living which has been pretty much  stabbed  to death since  those hyacinth days of the Fifties and Sixties is nicely  resuscitated in your long poem, making it (among other things) an  affirmation in the  wake of 9-11, instead  of  a  reaction."


John Bennett (RoadKill)


“Taken as a trilogy JOURNEY, ON/OFF, and ROADKILL form a kind of late twentieth century early twenty first century attempt to recover, recapture, or reinvent a part of america.  Also, taken together these three books become a long poem about the rediscovery of america.   And, the rediscovery of the self.  Beginning with JOURNEY, there is that starting out, that overwhelming desire to get the hell outta Dodge, to BE somewhere else as long as it isn’t home.  And, as is the case with any “journey out” poem you begin with where you are and you talk about what you see as you leave.  The old world is best seen in your rear view mirror.  That’s the past.  In all likelihood, in a week or two you will have to return to that place you are leaving behind.  But for the moment, you are existentially and totally free.  You have nothing to look forward to except the surprise of where the road will lead and the feeling that you are open to the world.” 

From the introduction by Todd Moore


An excerpt from the book:

Driving up 101
found myself drifting
into the memory lane on
more than one
Many treks up and
down this highway --  
this stretch of road
in the fine company
of the comrades of
youth --
friends and lovers
companions of those daze
so many years / miles ago
and now I fly solo
(so low).
Funny how certain landscape
features trigger certain
like dreams re-activated
by the piano roll of
subconscious mind tips open
the dusty old photo album
and out tumbles pictures
from another time --
Karen and her ‘58 Chevy
four door                      bruising tank of a car
riding north through Paso Robles
in the heat of that summer
101 a two-lane country road
in those days                           Karen long gone
Thought of her much
this first time on 101
in a dozen years easy.
Look forward to the sad dumb beauty of
these memories as trip unfolds
after house uncurls itself and
the coffee pot is empty. 


Two lanes winding
out of desolate coast
lined with sheer cliffs
flat gray drops
into sheetmetal patina sea
cliffs topped with scrub
and bush and wild grasses
wildly rioting at roadside
or freshly mowed and baled
like a KS wheatfield.
Little towns of Davenport
Pescadero, Half Moon
Maltera and Venice Beach
“Where’s the sunglasses?”
Even San Pedro (park)
“Am I going south or north?”
Pass a gutted and wind-blasted
concrete shell of a house --
it has no access
no explanation
just stands on the
weathered pedestal of sandstone
perched on top of a hill
over-looking Half Moon Bay.
This stretch
up to the outskirts
of SanFran’s suburbs
leads a caravan
away from the isolation
of the rugged coastline
and into Daly City’s “little
boxes” made of ticky-tack
once a novelty
now the common


From A Journey up the Coast