Look at how red that star is. Oh, I know, my pillowcase was soaking wet. Did you just text me? I never use the hand dryer. You know that door makes a lot of noise when it bangs shut, right? I don’t have any idea what time it is. The insects are happy. I can see Orion’s belt now. Can you imagine coming out here before the road was paved? I don’t know if those people are just getting up or if they never even went to sleep. The river’s gonna feel good tomorrow. Why do you have that rubber band around your wrist? It is not possible to drink enough water. Is your dog dreaming in his sleep?
Man, where’d you find all that kindling? If you saw Orion’s belt that high above the horizon in the middle of September it had to be two a.m. Yeah, I had to wear ear plugs. Can kayaks leave a wake? Something absconded with the chips last night. What’s this spongy stuff? That guy slept in his van. I dreamt about box fans. What time are they picking us up? You can’t use that kind of pen on these notebooks. If it rains on your birthday that’s good luck, right? Those look like chigger bites to me. Almost nobody was wearing a mask. If you saw a reddish star that bright it was probably just Mars. It’ll go back up eventually. That fire’s going good now. Of course I brushed my teeth. Did you hear those ducks going at it in the middle of the night? Well, I’m supposed to wear a biteguard. It was worse inside the tent, believe me. I gargle if I can. Dogs actually shed a lot this time of the year. The whole thing was so stupid. Is he just going to keep going back and forth like that? Oh, that’s a cute mask. It’s amazing those things float. I don’t know, I think it’ll be fun. That was definitely an owl. What’s that movie where they all scramble like hell to get ready for the airport? You’re gonna have to get somebody back out here to take some photos. Hey, how easy is it to tear these things in two? Holler if you want a muffin. Did water get in there? Well, I was looking for my headlamp but it was one of those things where I needed my headlamp to find it. I’m in fine fiddle with an hour to spare. Those clouds do look pretty thick over there. I always travel with a couple of little soaps. Eh, I’ll sleep on the river...
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Today was mowing. Hours of mowing the grass surrounding this old farmhouse. After timely rain all summer the ground has dried out as September lurches on, dateline Traderight, Missouri.
I arrived here late this morning, some dew still in the grass, the moisture bad for mowing. But that was fine because first priority was to get the well’s jet pump working better. When I left here two weeks ago the water was running but the pump would not reach its cut-out pressure; it would not kick off. A pump can’t run like that. If it does, it’ll burn itself out...
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Left Tucumcari, New Mexico at 8:40. The woman at the Best Western when I checked out says, "You look like you could use more sleep." Oh, thanks! What a nice thing for you to say. Yeah, I could have used some more sleep. But other guests stirring early, doors clanging, and then someone freaking out when a cat jumped out of the hallway trash can meant it was time for me to get out of bed. That and needing to drive another eight hours today.
I'm on U.S. Highway 54 headed east. This highway takes me all the way to Wichita. Land is mostly flat. Ranch land. Cattle grazing. Mesas in the distance, to the west. Lots of Aermotors. I've realized that's a trademarked name for the old-style windmills.
Lots of empty buildings here. There were lots of them in Tucumcari, too. That town is hollowed out. Abandoned homes. I suppose Tucumcari had its day. Post World War II. Car culture. Route 66. Before passenger air travel proliferated...
The second and final part of the travelogue continues here...
Game via radio, Chicago feed. Pat Hughes, Ron Coomer, Zach Zaidman. The Cubs take the lead on an Ian Happ double. The regular season is almost over. Can you believe it? Like a wink. Wild pitch, Cubs add a run, it's 3-1.
We say it every year, and not just about baseball, but: where did the season go? Where did the time go? The months like water, like sand, like air. A temperature that will change and what can you do about it? No, nada.
As we drove north-northeast from Springfield today the skies were mixed. To the west, dark skies. Confused, malformed clouds. A blue darkness. We were along the flatness of Illinois. The sky extended as far as we could see in any direction...
North, to Chicago, go on...
I think about our conversation. Our conversations. They're like a river. One river, different river, it doesn't matter. What we say—it's important to say it. I'd like to remember everything but once you say something it's in the river, the river takes it on down the stream, we can't look at the river to remember whether we said something. Did we say it, didn't we? If it's important enough we can say it again, and it can go into the river again, and it's not wasteful, it's not pollution if we mean what we say when we say it...
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Wooden doors. French doors. Lockbar, cord sheath. Dormers, slate roofs—lots of slate roofs. Slate mulch for trees on Esplanade. Fluorescent plastic straws, a few pennies. Failed mortar. Church bell. If I had started counting from the top I would know what time it was. Gum wrappers, gum. Cracks. A red substance—wax? Wrought iron. Gas lamps, flickering flames. Cool breeze. The neck of a glass bottle. Spigots lacking handles. Woebegone cigars. Sheathes now for the downspouts. Tender aluminum? Spit, phlegm, leaves. Trumpet playing on Jackson Square. Heels on these pavers, dog snuff, bags being rolled along their luggage wheels burning and turning. Feathers, sparkles, glints, sequins. Buttons. Shadows. This building I'm leaning on improved by the Works Progress Administration, 1935-1936. Trumpeter playing and singing that Hank Williams song, "...down the bayou...," his singing not as good as his trumpet playing and I'm a little hung over, a little emotional, having a moment here, a future memory I think, tears caught on the inner face of my sunglasses.
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Then E Vaughan. He unwraps and tosses a potay—it lands with a thud. I go and get more wood from the creek bed. Patrick helps, drags back a cedar. E Vaughan is working on the tractor. Will it start?
Putt, putt, huff, huff...
"Come on, baby!"
"Now we have liftoff!"
"Don't start counting your chickens yet."
Patrick saws. B offers up the last two cinnamon rolls. Bucky and Sarah are down, getting their stuff together. There was a day, down here, the first Sunday, when we were eager for getaway....
E Vaughan backs the tractor up the hill...
My first Farm Party account...
There’s people I haven’t met called John Randall.
There’s a guy who’s sick and shoeless in bed called John Randall.
There’s a man with tattoos and a tie on, singing a song called “John Randall.”
There’s a fifty year-old governor who just drove his precocious
aide to the top of a hill named John Randall.
There he is in bed again, still with his shoes off, John Randall.
They’ve got their arms around each other, asking someone to take a photograph.
With a pillow over his head, John Randall.
They don’t realize it’s a tabloid reporter, byline John Randall.
He’s in the back of a portrait of a bunch of people in an apartment drinking Bud Light. He is drinking a beer called John Randall.
He’s holding it there — not someone else, John Randall.
In the seventies his hair was way long and wavy, John Randall.
He has drinking buddies in college and there is lots of promiscuous sex, John Randall.
Out to pizza with his family, look at that cute dog there, oh, that little squirt, look at him he’s so cute. Now the dog is barking, the barking is driving him nuts, actually making him physically sick, causing him to think, God, if a dog is this bad, how the hell am I gonna have a kid named John Randall, Jr?
More of this ridiculous poem...
palm trees wave
like they’ve been
saving me a sea
long-lost waves wash
as I sit and have
and a cuban-made cigar.
There was a hop-hearted man,lived over the hills, rode a soberhorse, hung on by luck and dustystirrup—lived a life of drinkingevery kind of beer. Took shipsacross time-zones; received in mailfrom eager strangers; lickedfrozen cubes in the Yukon; toastedMayans in undiscovered pyramids;slurped out of naked Germannavels; mixed beer with politics in G8 capitals. Only death did … Continue reading The Beer Champion