Where did I put that thing? It has to be in here somewhere. I’ve never brought it back into the house. Maybe I threw it behind the seat? Or maybe the kids were playing with it, even though I’ve asked them to stop. Perhaps I stashed it in the console, along with the sunglasses, the pens, the motion sickness tabs, and this notebook. Or maybe it’s hanging on the rearview mirror, hidden in plain sight, like a rabbit’s foot, a pair of dice, or an air freshener that wore out many moons ago.
Things that are crumpled: bedspread, sauteed greens, the economy, mask on the ground, the hours of last night in my memory, recyclables once tipped into the collection truck, an old friendship, the silence, a grounded butterfly’s wing, used latex-free gloves, plastic bag in my pocket that once held oatmeal raisin cookies, my stash of reusable cloth bags now outlawed from use at the grocery, deleted email, used coffee filters, my previous laptop after an unfortunate run-in with the suddenly vital videoconferencing app known as Zoom, various articles of clothing that are now just laundry...
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The only thing here in the traps was a very crisp frog. There's a bit of a breeze. Only some of the grass has grown, only some of it needs to be mowed. The rest is fried—if it isn't dead it might not grow again this year. So there's one upside to the heat, to the lack of rain: less mowing. If I can stick out the balm, I can spend my time here the next two days doing more of this, and maybe a little reading...
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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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I deflate into sleep
Letting the air of
There's afternoon sun
When we stride,
When we slumber.
I saw it on the news.
Flies landed all over,
A bug-eyed buzzing
Mist, here to soak up
All of our
When we leave our
Doors open to the
Cool dark night
They make their move
To get in.
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All of the ice machines
In Tucson are empty,
Before they broke
They bade us
We made solid
Will never be forgotten.
They didn't try to
Made no demands.
It's not a strike
When the absence
They just got in.
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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1. It is tomorrow here already.
When the vodka's gone
it means we have to sleep
And I don't want to sleep—ever!
2. Turning and twisting.
The rest of the poem...
What was all that law school for?
Those early mornings, Austin city
bus, statutes, prescription glasses,
hard attitude, I
Never wrote the checks. I only ever
sued one "person," one dumb city and
It was a win but
what is that victory now?
Entire poem this way...
Imagine the sound of that comet,
Its tail a contrail split in two,
Dust and fried ice, the Sun
Seething with impotence
As the comet passed it by,
Somehow staying together.
Then I saw it the way I saw it,
Wicked blue morning,
Cows in the field with
Better eyes than me
But there on the horizon
Upside down, breeching, glowing with
An hour before dawn...
I like your socks, someone says to me,
What do you call that pattern, they ask,
Argyle, plaid, paisley?
No, that’s sleep, I say, that’s what
My sleep looks like, circadian rhythm,
Fly by night, circadian constellation.
Is that, they ask pointing, the mark of waking
Or of falling asleep? That, I say,
Is what an instant looks like,
The instant of falling asleep,
Slight as a moonbeam,
The moment of twilight turning to dark,
Of dark to dawn to sunrise.
Then nothing. All day nothing happens,
Solid colors here, all through this part.
Then day becomes dusk, dusk gloaming,
Then it’s night all over again.
Here, the moon sets, I roll over. Suddenly,
A meteor streaks overhead.
You see this brightness here?
That’s another asteroid, then another.
These are the meteor shower socks,
An excellent pair, but not the best.
Best are the ones I made
When the comet appeared.
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...
I've been clearing out part of the shed. One of the bays. I think of it as a future café, or perhaps even a place to sleep. I'll show ya. I'm taking certain old items—tire, rim, an old heavy plow, pure iron, the weight—and moving them into a different shed. A junk shed.
Now I'm taking my drill out there to reinforce the structure a bit. This is my playground, my school, my office, my church.
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