The Sundance Kid

Leaving Sundance, Wyoming –
It’s where the Kid got his name
There’s a definite sense of
Heading home now
Of being called back

Exit 205 to Beulah –
Also a town in mid-Wales
Another reminder
A chat head pops up on my phone
How many tables needed for the Green Fayre in November?
I fire the information straight back

Welcome to South Dakota –
The Black Hills hang heavy to the north
A massive white teepee greets me
Gold Wings electroglide next to me
No sign of Rocky Racoon
Just roadkill skunks

Rest area tourist information –
I pick up my complimentary state map
The woman advises me which way to go
But when I get there I’m not looking at the scenery
I’m looking out for rocks on the road
Dislodged by last night’s rain

Spearfish Canyon Scenic Byway –
I’m stuck behind two Polaris buggies
Filled with spades and maintenance gear
Thirty five miles per hour
A selection of waterfalls
No passing zones

Reminds me of Snowdonia –
Those twisty narrow roads
Even in summer

I grab a Clif Bar –
Sierra trail mix
Raisins to be cheerful
Part 3

I laugh at my own joke –
Laugh at the bikers putting on their waterproofs
Feels like I’m driving through the back end of the tourist season
Lead-Deadwood High School
Welcome back students!

The autumn lull –
Fall’s faltering
A time to change the stock on shelves
Snow globes, gloves and winter gifts
Skiers and snowboarders are coming
A different crowd altogether

I drift into Deadwood –
The stagecoach departed years ago
Just gun shops galore
Mock wild west saloons
Whip cracking away
I’d like to stay a while but

I turn right for Mount Rushmore –
The road feels like it could be slippy
Greasy truckers
Boondocks fifties town is deserted
Stuck behind a pair of careful Corvettes
Forty five miles per hour

Experimental Forest Road –
I’d stop to take photographs but
The rain is washing us away
Feels like the land is purging itself of visitors
Turning its back on the summer
I connect up my iPod

Bobby Dylan sings –
Where have you been?
What did you see?
What did you hear?
Who did you meet?
And what’ll you do now?

Mt Rushmore –
Waste of time
Obscured by clouds
I put away my camera
The Sundance Kid is on the run
Returning home


On this day in 2016 I bought the soul of Samuel Thomas for $10 and it worries me still.

Was it okay to take his photograph?
He said yes

Canyon de Celly South Rim lookout and thunder
I’d been skirting the storm clouds since leaving Ganado
Aware at Chinle they threatened to catch up with me
The usual visitor centre
The park for lunch
Bread, cheese, tomatoes
Sweet mesquite potato chips
A dog, some trees, scattered picnic tables
Just me and some off-duty rangers

Is history ever planned?
He said yes

One thousand foot high sheer cliff faces
One thousand year old ancestral stronghold
Red rock scoured by ages
Sunrise and deluge
Teeter on the edge and relive the past
Bareback braves and gatherings
Col. Kit Carson in sixty three
Surrender and removal
Return and reclaim

Do you ever come back?
He said yes

Every spring and summer after the thaws
We open up the hogan with eight walls
The door facing east toward the rising sun
Pick a peach or two on the remaining tree
In days gone by the crop would be dried
Laid like sunsets on baked ledges
Preserved alongside the corn
Winter’s rainbows
Now I drive a pickup and live in town

How much? Ten bucks? I’ll be back
He said yes

It was part of the bargain
The waiting and negotiating
White European invader with smartphone camera
Follow the trail, find the clues
Read the unfinished story
Listen to the thunder applaud your glory
And see. Now I am ready to honour my word
The money buying his family time
Carefully skirting around the canyon between us

Did you paint that?
He said yes

Crudely painted native art
Some representation of things I knew not what
Spirits and stuff for tourists on the back of a board
But hey, it’ll look good on my book shelf
But I didn’t say any of that
He was packing up
The storm clouds were catching up with us
Day turning to night
A time for retreat

Can I take your photograph?
He said yes

And posed without smiling
Held his artwork without pride
I held out my hand and we shook like men
Looked him in the eye but his was cast to the ground
An uneasy truce ensued
The first drops of rain falling first upon his cheeks
They all seeming to miss mine
I wondered did he ever smile
Samuel Thomas, Navajo, 22nd August 2016

It’s been nice meeting you I said
He said yes

And then, looking away he said
I have to be here
This is my home
This is my life
If I leave
If I have to go somewhere
It is like somebody broke my journey
I dream of hearing wild horses again
The sound of peaches falling into buckets


On the road out of Chinle
Still within the Indian reservation
The storm had come and gone heading north
Great floods of water surrounded shacks
Island trailer homes and tied-up dogs
The summer hail swept to the sides of roads
Eighteen-wheeler-dealers thundering through
And me? I was on my way to Horseshoe Bend
The next stop on my whistle-stop tour de force.



with his ivory foot resting
on a polished rock
the great wave off Kanagawa
breaks over his toes

one knee bent
a look of serene intention
greets us

his cormorant
with roped neck
and fish filled bill
sits in the crook of his arm
wings etched in black

he cannot swallow
his master’s livelihood
not now, not yet
not the big ones

but where is his boat?
his lantern, glass river?
Nishiki, Mikuma
Takatsu, Nagara

he stands
gracefully bent forward
right hand clasping the rope
that leashes the bird
to his will

a playful smile
accentuates his cheeks
we can almost see
his beard twitch

the wave crash
the night closing in
the burning lantern
there to attract fish
cast rippling reflections
as it dives beneath

and all within
the mock Tudor walls
of this suburban bungalow

the cormorant fisherman
has found a home
and stands alone
a lost tourist amongst
the royal wedding tea set
and Sylvac shire horses

in a mahogany alcove
Nan’s nik-nak shrine
where us children looked
but never touched

his imagined past

Description: Antique Carved Ivory Okimono: Fisherman elaborately carved antique, Circa 1900, Japanese ivory okimono; of a cormorant fisherman, standing on rockery among waves and holding his bird with a fish in his beak, signed on red lacquer plaque; H: 7"; Provenance: the Estate of Zoltan Shaw, collected mid 20th Century

(Antique Japanese carved ivory
okimono cormorant fisherman
circa 1900)

looking over the edge…

I have been to the ends of the Earth
And looked over the edge
There was darkness the depth of which
Took away my breath and left me speechless
Come away from there you cried
But the pull was too great
The drop too enticing
The thrill seeking adrenaline junkie
Cliff jumping euphoria was too appealing
I was mesmerised for those few minutes
Captivated in a traumatised trance
Gripped by something other worldly
Temptation raged war through my blood
Pounded brain cells to incomprehension
Made me question my former sanity
Places I had travelled
People I had seen
Their homes and faces staring back at me
Laughing and cajoling and beckoning to me
And then
Your hand
Touched my arm
Your words
Brushed the darkness away
And retreating
I found your quiet embrace
The souvenir seller
The vendor of forgiveness
The future holder of all life’s secrets
And I bought them all and promised you
Would I go again to the ends of the Earth
And look over the edge to be tempted by the darkness that lies beneath.


Daily one word prompt: Darkness