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
Returning

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
Claustrophobic
Cold
Wet
Even in summer

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

I laugh at my own joke –
Laugh at the bikers putting on their waterproofs
Hairybikerstrictlycomebakeoffcountryfile
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

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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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Fake Lake, Wyoming

standing on the lake edge
beside silver stemmed aspen
foot resting on a mighty driftwood log
arm on knee
waiting for a sunset

no words to describe the beauty
the water a mile or so away
vanished on a summer vacation
ripples retreating unseen
evening a quiet platitude

in the distance a cloud of dust
it hovers above the dried grass
then an old army tanker appearing
a quad bike with dogs circling
working the hundreds of sheep

watching from the sidelines
an unfolding drama growing louder
engines, shouting, bleating, barking
approaching a solitary hut
a regular sundown scene

admiring the shepherds’ work
now over, a fire is lit, dogs fed
they are hard as Idaho hills
viewed across the state border
beyond the lake with no water

there is safety in their numbers
the sheep settle into the night
the dogs listen out for the wolves
inside the tent there is darkness
and time to reflect

waking to the sound of howling
dogs or wolves or coyotes
echoing under a Wyoming moon
these memories will last a lifetime
I’m leaving in the morning

standing on the lake edge
beside silver stemmed aspen
the sun rising through the trees
calling my name across the valley
hearing only silence returned

alone as always

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Two years ago today I camped near this lake which appeared to have disappeared for the summer. Alpine North Loop Campground is on the Wyoming / Idaho border near the town of Alpine. I was on my way up through the Grand Teton National Park to Yellowstone. The lake was actually a reservoir. I watched the sun setting over the mountains as a group of shepherds gathered in their flock of noisy sheep for the night. That’s the dust they kicked up in the middle of the photo. The shepherds drove what looked like an old army tanker and quad bikes and had a hut which they returned to. I sat alone and watched the unfolding drama. One of the best camps on my trip. Travel at its most rewarding. Wyoming is beautiful. My spiritual home.

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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DOPE 2017

that I could take you away from the rust
that we would never stop running
through all those blue forgotten hills
to Kentucky, Illinois, fields of corn
as far as the eye can see, Iowa, Nebraska
where the wind would help heal you

and we would hide out in Wyoming
howling with the wolves at sunset
your shaking limbs held cloaked in mine
our teeth gritted against the storm inside you
the exorcism of demon dust from your veins
until daybreak would come and take us

setting our sails across the Great Salt Lake
a white blindness scorching dark dealings
those that held you captive in their ugly grip
come on! come on! there’s no time to lose!
we cross the Divide with Shoshone guides
whilst all the time witnessing dissipation

a transfusion process from one life to another
drop by drop from raging torrent to trickle
we move on, step by step from state to state
hey look! we can lose ourselves next in Nevada
or dance with the devil in Death Valley
it doesn’t much matter

for when we reach the beach at El Capitan
we will surrender ourselves to the Pacific swell
flotsam float to Hawaii, Samoa, Fiji, Vanuatu
and wash ashore on a distant sunshine coast
where the aboriginal songline trails will lead us
on to our Dreamtime reincarnations

I know
it’s not possible
it was just a crazy idea
that I could ever take you away
that you would ever hear me whisper your name
or that anything would ever change for you