Nick Varney

Nick Varney

Unhinged Alaska: The Poe-etic potholes return

Well, 2021 has started off a bit shaky, especially weatherwise. Even though, at the moment, we are encapsulated in a wood frog freeze, the last few weeks have been a nightmare of rain, sleet and snow-cone slush that has turned morning commutes into spontaneous scream therapy for those already on the edge.

It’s really hard to tell who or what has suffered the worse — the highways or people. With most everyone masked up, you have to be able to read eyes in order to ascertain if someone still comprehends what dimension they’re in after negotiating roads that have turned into replicas of military bombing ranges that are, in turn, moderately to blame for the condition of the aforementioned frenzied looks.

During the month, there were rumors that the Sterling Highway between Soldotna and Homer had several road-wide potholes that could have served as subterranean tourist attractions or, when drained, sub-aqua testing areas for a new generation of submarine drones.

Here in Homer things got so nasty, at times, it triggered flashbacks to almost 30 years ago when East End Road was a nightmare, especially during breakup.

Back then, its death spiral spawned at letter to the editor that went like this:

The Pothole

Once upon a midday dreary, while I drove, weak and weary

‘round many a black hole oozing slush and gore

While I bounced, not nearly napping, suddenly there came a rapping,

As of something not gently rapping, rapping near my pickup’s door.

Only this and nothing more.

Thus, I drove engaged in guessing, but no syllable expressing

About the road; foul condition burning deep within in my core.

“Who’s fault?” I cried, driving, with head impacting lining

on the ceiling’s overhead binding. Constantly reeling

…I then implore,

“Please, East End, nothing more!”

Abruptly stopping, with a shudder, flinging shocks into the gutter

ghastly grim, masked with grit, ole truck, no longer one of yore

it steamed and wheezed, then hemorrhaged antifreeze.

Next off came with hideous screech, the battered passenger door.

Yet, I scarcely more than muttered, “On damn beast, this I implore.”

It merely backfired, “Nevermore.”

Once snarling, dog Howard, ‘tis now whimpering coward

and will not ride since, thru the sunroof launched, his mistress Elenore.

I do not miss his yapping, yet wait, another rapping?

Rapping near my door?

Whence down the hole where I am sitting,

I sense something flitting.

Under steel’s frame quietly easing, then bumping, ‘neath the floor.

“‘Tis an earthquake, nothing more.”

Then the truck rose, hence racing heart froze.

“What horror!” I screamed, then railed, “Not one bit more!”

Yet, it kept tilting, body rising, while I’m surmising,

what monster lurked beneath my dead truck’s floor.

A seismic rupture spewing death from buried core?

T’was a grader, nothing more.

The blade shook me free, then began to flee, toward town, on fire- sparked chains, it tore,

with driver’s wailing yell that he had escaped from hell.

Angrily, I raged, as torrid temper commenced to soar,

“I beseech thee sir, heal this apocalypse, we desire a path, nothing more!”

Quote the craven, “Never more!”

Change a few landmark names and the wordplay fits some of this winter’s thoroughfares as nicely as they did three decades ago.

Anyway, I signed the letter while conveying my deepest apologies to the late, great, Edgar Allen Poe whose poetic vehicle, “The Raven” gave me the conveyance with which to rumble down the troubling trail of Old East End without losing any more shock absorbers or totaling out rims.

It also brought a call from editor back then wondering if I would be interested in doing a few columns expressing my “Rather unhinged perspective on life.”


See you next month. The Energizer Bunny has nothing on us.

Nick can be reached at if he has pounded enough mugs of Raven’s Brew Double Dead coffee to handle some of the audacious emails rolling in from those sporting the weird eyes that we mentioned earlier. Get a grip out there!

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