Contents:

  • On the Road to Sioux Falls (from Give Me a Home)

  • Red Clouds of Sunset (from I Walk the Earth)

  • In the National Bison Range in Montana (from Give Me a Home)

  • Gone to War (an excerpt)

  • Go Look Lost (an excerpt)

  • The West of the Zephyr (from Gone to War)

  • A Tribute to João Gilberto (from No Rush for Gold)

  • There Is Light (from Golden Rushes)

On the Road to Sioux Falls (from Give Me a Home)

The pearl was handed to me. A day is a journey in itself, its hours often spent in dreams of ventures into richer pastures. Far be it if the grass is greener, if the grass is purple I want to see it. True travel is no vacation and an adventure is no less than an opportunity for accelerated growth. When given the keys balk not, grab them and go.

It was on a day in mid-spring that I set off on a road trip I had never imagined. Delivering a red convertible to its new home in Montana, I would be driving from just east of the Mississippi River in Illinois to just south of the Canadian border and ending within eyeshot of Glacier National Park. My journals are filled with sketches of dream voyages mapped out all over the world but until now the Northern Mountain States had been overlooked. I remember once when looking at an old train route map and seeing that national park on it with the magical name of Glacier. Now soon I would be on its doorstep. Travels are better prepared for than planned for. But first it was key to check my eagerness and delay my departure for as long as I could. Winters in the mountains linger into the first days of summer and the roads would not be fully open for some time yet. So against the grain I sat patiently for a few weeks until with a wave of warm weather in the first days of May, I saw the land unroll for me like a red carpet and I was on the road.

The river was high in record-breaking flooding as I crossed into Iowa. In previous weeks I had watched the floodwaters rise from a riverside café in Moline, pelicans and geese and plastic garbage that looked like ducks drifting by the window until the river inevitably reached the door and the shop had to close until it receded. From high up on the bridge, low-flying birds grazed their bellies against their reflections in the water on their way to perching on treetops that looked like bushes floating in the river. A cataclysmic event is strangely peaceful in its aftermath.

But the first hours behind the wheel dragged. The straight shot across Iowa, monotonous to a sin, toys with one’s spirit and not three hours into it, Montana seemed an unreachable goal. In Des Moines I stopped for a meal and after the break drove on and into South Dakota, the hours passing more swiftly. A road routine was falling into place and the car was increasingly becoming a haven, these four wheels would be the closest thing to a home and a companion for the next group of days. Then it was Sioux Falls before sundown where I spent the first night and visited its namesake falls, lying in an urban park complete with the ruins of an old mill and walking paths and a footbridge over it, rewarding to the eye if not the nose...

narrow falls crashes over

red quartzite rocks, breathe

deep the stinky river

Red Clouds of Sunset (from I Walk the Earth)

-from Tapia de Casariego to San Xusto de Cabarcos

blue sky blue as

the sea, last night’s

black clouds are lifted

last town through Asturias,

a wall of jasmine

flowers sweetens the air

-(in Galicia)

through the eucalyptus forest

across the mountain ridge,

a pilgrim carries on

in the shadow of

mountains, trellised vines slung

down the hill slope

patches of farmland quilted

over the hills, hazy

mountains on the horizon

-in San Xusto de Cabarcos

just one love tap,

cute Spanish girl bouncing

around in short shorts

-from San Xusto de Cabarcos to Mondoñedo

a delicacy to some,

a bird digging crushed

snail from the shell

hulking sharp-edged mountain

peak, a bully to

the forested hills below

-from Mondoñedo to As Paredes

too wise to walk,

a horse stock still

at the mountain’s foot

blinded over the mountain

pass, a foggy ocean

wedged in the valley

down from the chilly

foggy mountain, sun-baked

cows and pastoral hills

-from As Paredes to Baamonde

no favor on a

chilly morning, wind splashing

water on my face

over a swamp out

of thin air, stone

bridge with stone ramp

a chicken squawking like

a woman crying no,

a kitty cat mews

through the open gate,

forest oasis with a

red needle bed floor

baby chick sitting is

hard work, mama hen

on her big ass

sudden craving for mites,

turkey going to town

on another turkey’s back

-from Baamonde to Sobrado dos Monxes

tossed in a bushel

of fresh pilgrims without

packs, the circus begins

large barking dog backs

away scared of me,

just a little bitch

broad smooth stones and

bone-white dry branches,

Camino through an apocalypse

-from Sobrado dos Monxes to A Calle de Ferreiros

sound of steady water

falling into the creek,

a quiet lunch refuge

peligro agua no potable,

cow pissing like an

out of control hose

-in A Calle de Ferreiros

red clouds of sunset,

blue sky to hail

an end to day

-from A Calle de Ferreiros to Santiago de Compostela

musky scent through the

shade, blazing sun beaten

back by giant eucalyptuses

dusty rocky oven-baked

trail at midday, Camino

smells like a pilgrim

-in Paris

jets trumpet Bastille Day,

disoriented birds flop like

confetti in the wind

burial in the green

river, a fallen branch

returns to its roots

In the National Bison Range in Montana (from Give Me a Home)

raising a dust cloud,

lone bloodshot bison giddy

rolling on its back

inching over the gravel

road, a fuzzy caterpillar

just missed the wheel

crashed in the wild

grass, worn-out deer

laze the day away

from a dusty field,

a white-winged bird

soars through a cloud

patchy coat at best,

bison with a case

of male pattern baldness

switchbacks up the mountain

on gravel and dirt, a

road imported from Bolivia

beside the trailhead a

family of bear dawdling,

hike away my friends

lounging in the shade

amidst the dandelions, deer

take a load off

overlooking the plains of

a prehistoric sea, a

refuge that feels prehistoric

owning the road and

prancing cocky as hell,

couple of masked antelope

fat brown splotches in

the yellow dandelion fields,

bison on the slopes

swinging its tail all

lonesome-like, a bison

away from the herd

strolling down to the

creek, a moose makes

its own happy hour

bouncing from one watering

hole to another, deer

bar-hopping in the wild

a life well-spent

grazing and procreating, bison

live it up alright

Amish bangs do not

help, the ugliest bison

of the lemon lot

Gone to War (an excerpt)

I am an eternal visitor, an always wanderer of the earth…

and as I walk this land, on a journey far away, on a return home, the city I encounter becomes my battleground, the streets the trenches, and I feel…

I have gone to war…

with the pen as my sword and a book as my armor it is my duty to plunge deep into the night, confront the day, to live deeply and to see…

Go Look Lost (an excerpt)

I live an empty and shallow life often days. Fantasies come into my head. I think of escaping it all, heading over to Europe or Asia and just simply rambling or ranching or climbing and ascending verdant hills and breathing that air or painting in a simple apartment overlooking a plaza as I watch the old men play chess or become a woodworker for a city fire department constructing ladders or damn I do not know, hang out with that gal and make her laugh and see if she is worth trying to keep a hold of. I remain optimistic.

Truth is I said fuck all. I hate the idea of being confined for so long. I prefer being a seasonal than a shackled permanent. That said I bide my time, working on simple pieces such as long walks and contemplative poems and trying to figure out what it all means. I get rid of shit I amass. Essentially I conserve money, sip tea, and as always try to develop myself into becoming more perturbing and more profound and more beautiful, with subtleties and nuances for society. If called I am free to roam and hike wherever and with whomever.

The West of the Zephyr (from Gone to War)

The journey was to be of over two days across the great land from Illinois to California. This earth is a privilege to see, an honor to experience but before its start there was a wait, the train was late caught in a minor repair. Luckily the nearby downtown was worth a visit, its shops and streets were worth a stroll…

waiting for the train by not waiting for the train,

in a café a strawberry

muffin and coffee, warm and homemade

The journey began slowly. The land was almost flat, a heavy green of agriculture, and familiar—uninspiring to my eyes. Eventually I released myself and saw its beauty…

yellow tips of green deep stalks of

miles of vistas,

squares of land, farms of corn

alone cow between the hills

eats the grass between the grass

the train rocks as it rolls and

passes highway maroon truck and

marooned trucks in junkyard chunks

The first night on the train came and along with it its discomfort, I left my seat and I went to the viewing car where a few other passengers were. Panoramic windows showed some stars, some moon and the occasional village lights and here I read and I thought. The view into the dark relaxes, the night passed by…

by the train at night in a low lamp and

just above the horizon almost full orange moon glow,

an unknown town drifts by in the dark

high in the viewing car, low is the land,

night lamps light between in the hard to see dark

the mirror of the sky above,

the lake beside the rail

I had never been west. It was in Colorado that the terrain transformed, the land shot to the sky as in celebration and to me appeared for the first time the Rocky Mountains. Those mountains—seeing them, crossing them, winding through and becoming them. A creation of such impact leaves a mark and their landscape still I can see…

far to the horizon under

white fog clouds, white tipped mountains,

the first rockies I see

hanging

in the grass with a bud,

the cows lounge

in the gravel by the track,

one baby sunflower

In Denver I was reminded of Cochabamba—a city of altitude, dry and dusty and surprisingly green, and those gorgeous skyward mountains framing the view. Railroad tracks run through the backside of a town, the less presentable side, the less pretty side. Like in Cochabamba, I felt at home…

runs over rocks over muddy earthen bed,

a river cuts a city as dusty as foggy

as mountainous, little as beautiful

For some hours, perhaps half a day the journey passed through nothing but mountain landscape. A land so affecting—every curve, every slope, every tunnel and the sight of the habitable as well as the inhabitable terrain, the villages we passed and where we sometimes stopped. In heaven, I wanted to see it all…

lying abreast the mountainside in its bed,

a village rests in its relaxing set

dusty yellow grasses and ever green trees,

hills roll to bigger rolls

sprinkled houses on country hills,

a scattered village built on the slide

wedged in rock,

a tree roots in cliff rough

distant snow on distant dipped

mountain cone,

out of reach, in sight

a tranquil gray lake in the sky,

among the rocky hills higher

a dam between the hills,

plugs the gap and holds the lake

cut into a rocky gorge,

rocky rapids in white water

standing on the nose at the head,

a man and his train

pointing to the sky,

still they say look at me,

millions of trees

the hard life of a hard tree

rooted in rock and flourishing

by a footbridge by a trickling

stony stream,

a sitdown picnic wave to a train

stone pillars in numbers balance on

a hard dry mountain

in forest, trees in

lavender scarlet green, from tall to their fall,

different stages of life, different stages of death

right in the middle of where it should be,

a house alone with its trees, its mountains

There was a river in the mountains. The train hugged the canyon wall and a few times crossed over a bridge to alternate one shore side for the other. Trees and shrub grew where they could, the river was always there…

going where the front of the train is,

curving around along the river

rapid white water rapids bubble over

rocks and stones to make a river from a stream

islands in the river,

trees in mud flourish as the level is low

canyons cut in mountainside

and trees dig in the slope and across its head

as under bridge and at its feet

a river to rapids turns as it turns,

the colors astounding

The moon was especially high and especially bright as the train wound through the remaining mountains in the dark. This was the second night on the train, the last night of the journey. I had grown uncomfortable, so many hours in one place, but I paid sleep little heed. To the moon I dedicated my night…

headlight of

oncoming train lights my train

and night

distant mountain point in range,

above a most moon glow exclaims

moon

in the night dark hard to see,

easy to see

shades of black out the window,

blinks of twinkle high and high

a panoramic view of a black on black view,

some stars but the moon is the star

In the low light of coming dawn I awoke to find I was surrounded by the Great Salt Lake, endless like a pale ocean. For a second I saw it clearly then returned to sleep. In the morning the image of the vision returned to me. I thought I dreamt it but I saw it…

broken by occasional grasses,

salt land miles and flat

It was in California—low mountains and hills rolled in green and great wooded forestland. This was the most impressively livable land I had seen. I was in awe…

filling the hole, the ridge falls away to

a plain and its pines and a green blue lake,

nice for and to be a boat

low mountains above and below

the train view,

their hair sticking up in ambitious pines

high above the highway the railroad,

trucks trammel in the crevice below

stopped in the rocky sierras, endless hills to

mountains dry and endless trees

The train cut through old railroad towns, though occasionally a person was sighted, most were sleepy. It was a joy coming through new lands, to soon arrive in a new city. It was fitting I was welcomed…

kid standing on his car pumping

his cock to the train, his way to wave

with his trailer without a shirt,

a phone in one hand and swinging the other,

now that is a wave

These were the last hours of the journey and as I wished to get off, I knew I was going to miss it. A railway takes you through beautiful land. There was still much to see…

alone with the rocks a distance from the forest,

alongside the track a baby tree tries to grow

running alongside skinny and long,

chasing us down I think it is a rabbit

the train still more late with maintenance and jams

only one way to fix it,

pass the bottle of wine, especially red

It was the final stop before my destination and I stepped out onto the platform for some air, to stretch. I had always wondered about California, I had never dreamed of it. Here now I could see, it is a dream…

a bit dry a bit warm,

under palm trees and night,

the first california air I breathe

A Tribute to João Gilberto (from No Rush for Gold)

One evening João Gilberto came to him. The auditorium could seat a few thousand and around it was a massive lawn where people sat on blankets for a picnic and music without a view of the stage. All these people…Are they really here to listen or for a sandwich and wine and to chat with their friends?

The musician exits the train which took him directly to the locale and winds through the lawn looking and thinking…I…am going to see João Gilberto. I am actually…going to see João Gilberto…He tries to prepare himself because he is not alert enough. He wants to catch every movement, every moment. This day has been longed for for a long time. Is he ready?

He looks around and through people to see everything—João might be outside somewhere. He would not be having a smoke because he does not smoke, but maybe he is outside somewhere. But there is no one other than the anonymous many uncorking their wine, laughing, kissing.

The auditorium is sprawled wide to allow no one seated to be too far from the stage and with its roof supported by pillars in place of walls, the late summer freshens the air inside. The vibe here is different from the lawn. Those who have arrived are sitting facing the stage, quieter, more concentrated. It is as if they are awaiting the performing of a sacred act. The musician likes this better. I must not be the only one for whom João means so much—he thinks. And he walks to and takes his seat far left of the stage, on the aisle, ten rows back.

From here he looks around at the people seated…I’d rather be alone but you all look all right…And he looks at the stage—João Gilberto’s chair, his two microphones, his fall-back speaker…I have to do it…

He leaves his seat, walks down the aisle, around the front row, and stops directly in front of João Gilberto’s chair. João Gilberto’s chair! Waiting for him! Here he will sit when he sings! He leans in and looks closer to remember every detail. Then he leans in further and reaches out as far as he can with his hands…and snaps a picture. Relaxed, he looks again at his chair and the whole set-up and returns to his seat, casually. I am ready for him.

The lights dim over a full house and the crowd waiting is almost done waiting…The anticipation…It is coming…A man steps out…A welcome of applause, shouts, and whistles loud enough to destroy a man erupts from the audience and João Gilberto deliberately walks through what he has created with his shy three-quarters smile. His guitar hangs from his hand, no case, just a guitar and he walks calmly and easily like a man of thirty years even though he is more than twice that. His sway is of youth and health—they know they are in for a good one. And the people quiet down almost to a silence to let the man sit and adjust the microphones, one over the guitar, one over his voice…Good evening…Again the crowd erupts but for a shorter duration and again fades back to a silence. They want to hear music, not applause. And we are waiting, give us anything João. We love you.

He fine tunes a couple notes—they hold their breath. He adjusts his seat—they sit up in theirs. When comfortable, he picks a soft chord—they are anxious. Then with his soft voice…

Aaah…

And he goes into Saudade da Bahia, the Longing for Bahia. The crowd longs for Bahia and anything else João tells them to do because they are in his world. The sun does not burn, the night is not cold—everything is perfect. The musician leans forward and stares…I have seen him in pictures, I have seen him walk, I have seen him sit, and now I see him sing, from this man, this body, comes my favorite sound, from him comes the most beautiful thing in this world, not from a record, not from a speaker, from him, I can see his lips and his fingers move, I can see where it comes from, and he is making it for me…The musician, leaning forward and staring, would cry if he were in his body but he is not, he is in the music.

Then the song finishes. Again the crowd attacks with their approval, loud and snapping as if each person hopes that he will hear their particular clap and João Gilberto rides the wave and wake without a word, just his small timid smile. He loves to play and we love to listen.

With little delay he goes into another song and works his way through his classic recordings and others less known as well as new pieces not yet heard. João Gilberto gives all generations a chance. He plays compositions by the older composers, his own generation, and the new ones as well. In one show you hear the history of samba and bossa nova up to the modern day and the crowd loves it. After every piece the applause is quick and fierce as if they cannot wait for the song to finish so they can tell him how much they love him and the quieter he plays, the louder they applaud. They want to shatter windows with their thunder and João just smiles into the storm. And he goes into another.

The musician came alone but around him is a crowd of couples. Everywhere in this Gershwin love song are lovers leaning their heads towards each other. Everything is all right, love is perfect, and everyone is in love. And the musician is in love too. It is wonderful, it is marvelous.

And João finishes the song and a few more and leaves. He only spoke two words that were not sung and now he is gone. The crowd is stunned…How can this moment end? And they call him back with the loudest applause yet. Three times they call him back and he returns, he is the king, and he plays for his people and those waiting ears open for him. Where would we be without him. So one more, please one more, always give us one more so that we may never know. But the three encores run their course and he leaves and does not return having exhausted not his repertoire nor his voice or his hands but our voices and our hands having shouted and applauded so much.

The lights come on—well, back to life—and everyone leaves but the musician waits to be last…Maybe João will come out and have a look…But he cannot wait long or he will miss the train. Reluctantly he gets up and winds through the auditorium and lawn the long way hoping to see him. It was the greatest hour and forty-five minutes he has known. And to return to normal life, he boards the train.

There Is Light (from Golden Rushes)

There is light. A hot panting sun pushes itself up and rolls into position. There is light. A light sky receives its heavy friend as old as itself. There is light. A land that cooled kicks sleep out and thinks finally or not again depending on how it feels about the big guy. There is light. The passed out creatures of the earth catch the rays of another day warmth and whistle if they can and yawn if they can. There is light. The always near sea raises a wave to the warming air from its warming surface. There is light. The town below and stretching around less than the eye can see rolls again its shadow over. There is light. And the houses of the people for few people can be seen directly take on the roof the heat of the sun and through the window the light of the sun. There is light.

The day has begun and the morning comes and the warmth, the light, the sun—warming and brightening with the hour—sees especially one special house and through the glass passes onto a corner of the counter, the floor, a leg of the table. Some items have been left out, tossed and tipped on their side, and others have been tidily put away and in the kitchen for eating there is not much to eat but a breakfast can always be scrambled together. For the other meals, they may have to go out. The rising shine passes over the nourishment and down a short hall where the little that can peeks under the door. Here it mixes with what made it through a tight window shade and here the light of the sun stops in its tracks and looks. It is the sweetest room in the world, for him and for her, the only place at all.

There is a kiss. Zerron receives it softly on the lips and with her lips and again they bury themselves in each other. They can feel their body stretching and their muscles yawning but they hold tight to continue their night. Their bed is a good cozy warm. A kiss on the shoulder, a squeeze of the arms—they are lost in each other’s skin, the sun is ignored. Life is beauty in beautiful moments—prolong them.

Across the town the hour turns and the kitchens are receiving more than their fair share of sun but most of the inhabitants in most of the beds are still closed for the night. They have not slept enough and certainly not dreamed enough and they roll over where it is darker for another round. Maybe this time if I could fly or maybe…That person I work with…Heh heh heh…The snores reissue. It is before morning, before the work and tire for most and dreams still permeate. There are breakfasts to come.

And in the little sweetest room in the world, into each other’s eyes they are looking. The bit of light that peeks in is enough to make out what they wish to see—the eyes I know, the dreams therein, the wishes I wish. They barely move, they hardly breathe. No words, no kissing. They woke from a dream to a dream. Some days are good and some days pass. But those eyes nourish. He brushes her hair back from her ear and smiles halfway and whispers something that sounds like I have to go.

He lifts the covers off himself and sits up, stays a moment, then stands. He looks to her and she looks to him. Silent words. He turns, she watches…A man she did not think she would meet, a man she did not think she would know. She looks at him and wonders…A few more moments and he returns to her side and sits. His skin is now covered as it was when he arrived, she remains as she was all night. They look toward each other but away…Time was on their side but shortly. Fate was theirs for them and passed. What to do with the remaining moments…Love was there, love is eternal…

He reaches and takes in his hands her guitar that was sitting nearby and holding it pauses in a sigh. There are so many things to say and no words to say them. He turns and looks to her for the answer. She smiles halfway and hugs her pillow. She is ready. He looks away. His eyes feel closed though they are open. Sightless, thoughtless—he looks, rolls and scans around the room to notice something but registers nothing until he ends looking down to his hands and his lap, he rests…Now…He remembers…

He sits up tall and pulls a soft chord from her guitar. It is mostly in tune so he plays a slow bass line that rises then down it slides and bounces into a gentle chord. The rhythm set, he goes on and on into a song of bass notes and chords, bass notes and chords. It has an easy beat, as natural as a short nap. Then he sings…

seeing her here now / as she walks / a gentle beat / harmless and mild

she’s my angel / on and on / on her wings / I am free

as I say / over and over and over again / she grows on my mind / like nothing I know

This is their goodbye. The guitar he sets aside and he kisses her forehead and her lips. It is time to go. At the doorway he turns to look at her again, a blanket covers most of her. He can see enough to know that he does not want to go. He should hug her again, he should kiss her again. He knows they have more music, he knows they have more of everything. And just as he is certain he does not know what to do, somehow he leaves.