Road Signs and Hobo Marks
by Lois Parker Edstrom
48 poems, Art: 18 Hobo Signs, 61 pages
Price: $15.00
ISBN: 978-81-8253-673-9
Publisher: Cyberwit
To Order: Amazon


In her brilliantly crafted new collection, Lois Parker Edstrom, transports her lucky
readers from the relative affluence of 21st century America, placing them in the middle
of the Great Depression (1930-1940). This is the era of the ‘Hobo.’ These scruffy men
(sometimes entire families) rode the rails and combed the countryside for work. In the
midst of no work, no money and no prospects, hobos developed a unique set of signs or
markings. Through meticulous research, coupled with an obvious love for people
disenfranchised through no fault of their own, Edstrom writes poems that describe and
develop each sign and the specialized communication conveyed through them.

In Part II, the poet explores the universal theme of longing for home, for a sense of
permanence and a deeper understanding of identity in a changing world. Indeed, there is a
certain sense in which we all share in the lot of the hobo. One does not have to be a child
of the Great Depression to feel uprooted, abused and disenfranchised. Road Signs and
Hobo Marks
is a collection that resonates in any age.


Lois Parker Edstrom never disappoints, and in Road Signs and Hobo Marks, her
masterful craft ignites our sense of connection to other times and places. Readers of Road
Signs and Hobo Marks
are “… embedded in light/that slants through shuttered
forests/shimmers/over the river’s smoked surface …” Travelers met in these shimmering
worlds, bring us to an understanding of voices we never knew or we thought lost … we
want to stay here where “A barn cat curls at your feet wanting/only the comfort of a
warm body.”
—Marian Blue, author, editor, teacher


Lois Parker Edstrom, a retired nurse, is the author of five collections of poetry. Her
poetry has been read by Garrison Keillor on The Writer’s Almanac, and featured in
American Life in Poetry. Edstrom’s career in nursing and her poetic passion coalesced
when one of her poems appeared in Poems in the Waiting Room, a publication furnished
to hospitals and to doctors’ offices in New Zealand. Her poetry has appeared in various
literary journals and anthologies, been translated into Braille, and adapted to dance. She
lives with her husband on Whidbey Island, an island off the coast of Washington.


Song for the Road
by Lois Parker Edstrom

     A good traveler has no fixed plans
              and is not intent on arriving.

Travelers tote a portable definition
of home. It is scribbled in the dust
of the road, embedded in light
that slants through shuttered forests,
and comes unbidden in the call
of a distant train.

It quivers just beyond
the next expectation, shimmers
over the river's smocked surface,
unspooling down a mountainside
under a mood of clouds.

Caught in the reflective flash
of city windows and a skyline etched
against a setting sun,

it is chalked in alleyways,
and on the gatepost of a stranger's
rural home.

Sojourners adopt the comfort
of the road, the communal warmth
of campfire, while on a bosky hillside
the red-eyed towhee scruffs up the earth,
a primal dance, as if worshipping
the thrill of an ancient flame.

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