Wyoming Wanderings

Your mind can wander out here
That’s not always a good thing
And time can be a distraction
I try to leave my windows open
Allow the scenery to breeze right in
Absorption without discussion

A while back
My speed touched 70
I wandered out into the scrub
Clambered down into a dried up river bed
It twisted and turned alongside the road
Meandering like my thoughts
I wondered what it would be like in winter
Or during a flash flood
In full spate like my thoughts

I imagined being bitten by a snake
Should I keep my leg up or down?
Would I make it to a hospital?
How far was the nearest town?

I stop to photograph a graffitied boulder
Two Dogs Was Here
Imagine one of those tumbling down
Crushing my car
Futile attempts to steer out the way
Two seconds of panic
Then

When you start to wander you see things
Nature’s sidewalk secrets revealed
A fox disturbed from his shady nook
Signs of wild animals
Tracks, scrapes
Holes, faeces
Tread carefully
Broken glass
Grasshoppers

See how the rain shapes the land
Makes the plants bloom
And the sun cracks the sand
It’s alive and dead
Weathered
Lived in
Worn
Out

This place makes you feel alive
The wind and the potential
Danger lurking
I have to move on but I am drawn
To the contorted pock marked boulders
The dried grasses
Pale straw piss yellow
The sound of their seed heads
A solitary purple flower
Everything

I’m standing near to where I saw the fox
But he’s long gone or well hidden
Perhaps keeping an eye on me
Mistrustful beings both
Hunters and murderers
Wary wanderers

I turned with a smile
Took one last photograph
I had found what I had come looking for
A bend in the road
Sweetwater County
Wyoming State Highway 430
Rock Springs to the Colorado border

But now it’s time to move on.

 

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selfportrait

I
look out
and try to find
blue and crimson skies
where birds fly from the corners of my eyes
and a copse of trees on a wilderness road
is a little piece of England in Wyoming
where the shadows breathe life into the rocks
and the wolf within me sniffs the summer air

I am
alone and I am
a traveller and I am here and now
in no other time or dimension or space
there are pieces of broken seashells in my pocket
the sharp edges a reminder of sand between my toes
my burnt shoulders a reminder of childhood
when I walked these shores without a care
doing what children ought to do in silence

I understand
the importance of being alive
although I cannot comprehend the meaning of it
the days are numbered with my personal DNA sequence
another unfathomable equation that directs me
and sends me spinning through these landscapes
like an out of control meteorite on a collision course
that urges me to bend down and pick at the desert gravel
to find the piece that fits snugly in my mind

I
of course I can
it’s as easy as buying a ticket and jumping on a plane
there’s no glue to bind me like gravity to this planet
I can come and go as I please and take my leave
wave to you from afar or hold you near
my reason is to journey and never arrive
the call of the wild lulls me to sleep
and in your arms I slumber peacefully

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journey

imagine an empty highway
now tell me from which exit should I leave
am I heading out into the burning desert
where the Joshua trees wait with welcoming arms
or am I heading towards the coast
where the pelicans fly in ragged lines

imagine an empty back road
now tell me where I should pull over and pause
am I looking out into a fiery wilderness
where the light dazzles and dances before my eyes
or am I smelling the salty ocean breeze
where the dolphins swim in family pods

imagine an empty dirt track
now tell me if my rental car will make that bend
am I climbing to gain a higher perspective
to witness the making of all this splendour
or am I driving between secluded sand dunes
to find myself on some long forgotten beach

imagine an empty hiking trail
now tell me should I proceed on foot
am I here to meet you on the other side
where the daytime turns to oily night
or am I swimming out to find you somewhere
under the waves and starlit depths

The King is Dead

my mother’d come screamin’ from out the kitchen
her eyes a-blazin’ with the flames of tumbleweeds on fire
right down the stoop she’d run arms open ‘n’ outstretchin’ to me
her familiar smell of hairspray mixed with chillies ‘n’ sweat
television newsflashes flickerin’ like lightnin’ through the blinds

I’d been seventeen years old as I stood witness in that dusty yard
the sun a burnin’ ball balancin’ on the far mountain ridge
we’d lived in a crater that shucked moisture from beneath the skin
spend too much time out there an’ y’all brains would start boilin’
our trailer was a white billboard box advertisin’ our poverty

seemed the devil had gotten inside ‘n’ taken ahold of her mind
she shooked ‘n’ shaked like a rattler cornered in a ditch
slowly her hands ebbed away down the length of my dungarees
her blazin’ eyes dampenin’ as the heat within subsided
she lay shiverin’ on the ground at my bare Baptist boy’s feet

my birthday ice cream meltin’ over my hand in astonishment
she just lay there clutchin’ at her heart that had busted apart
Nevada was a cruel motherfucker whore she’d once said
an’ Vegas was its jumpsuited rhinestoned bedazzled pimp
but each day she’d driven into that city of music ‘n’ sin

she’d worked the International Hotel & Casino showrooms
guidin’ customers to their seats with her little pink plastic torch
an’ never did she miss a single Elvis show in seven years
that’s eight hundred ‘n’ thirty seven Elvis shows she’d gone done
no wonder she’d grown so attached to the King

I’d bent down and stroked her hair with the familiar smell
but somethin’ had already died behind her tumbleweed eyes
then the words blew from out across the darkenin’ desert sky
“Is your heart filled with pain, shall I come back again?
Tell me dear, are you lonesome tonight?”

lyrics in italics by Lou Handman & Roy Turk

 

these ‘things’

I place these ‘things’ within me
not for any healthy purpose you understand
and mostly unintentionally
but in they go to find a way
to make a home in some dark nook
or cavernous cranny

stay as mini-migraines why not
or boiling lava lakes within my gut
yes it’s up to me to sort them out
to shout them down and diminish
their potential to wreak havoc
but it doesn’t always work that way

as I am sure you are well aware

once, when I was walking along a remote roadside
I glimpsed a wild animal hide behind a rock
it knew that I knew that each of us were waiting
for the other to move first
yet somehow that creature melted away in the heat
and came to rest within me

and further into my journey
I came across the remains of an eagle
its feathers magnificently spread across the tarmac
a discarded headdress from a fallen hero
once galloped off into a desert sunset
brave and fearless

unlike myself you understand

still storing all these ‘things’ after all these years
souvenirs and postcards from the past
red lipstick kisses on green envelopes
portraits of the poet as a young man
miniatures of finely painted thoughts
in foreign climes

there is an end to this tiresome conversation
as the wind blows through open corridors
I take the hand of an imaginary friend
and we walk barefoot across sand dunes
each step is a word left unspoken
each word left unspoken is peace at last