Category Archives: Shoebox

20 Mule Team (for Smoke Blanchard)

1

Whip that 20 mule team
“just so” he declared

They’ll drag up
to the pass
to commune with
the ghost of
ole rambler Smoke

2

Peanut butter
wrapped in wax
wooden staff
machined to the end

Wanderer equipped with gaiters
bearded mischievous serene
the Sierras to the Wasatch
forays to box canyons
hidden from those who see
trees stunted by degrees

But clear to those who keep
their Sanskrit skrimshaws
bundled up in rock and sage

3

Gathered in a desert
witnessed only by peregrines
and rising orbs
named for Roman lords

4

O’er the pass
20 mule team
Mojave plateau
to the spaceport
shiny glassy steel

5.

Passing Shasta and the sidekick
– noble in diminution
~ shaggy crags below
Shasta’s silver flank…
the signs point to Weed

6.

Somehow Jupiter and Venus
came along – glancing from the high right –
mighty mass of glorious gas

the longhaulers swing before the
end of the Cascade blowers
Baker to Lassen
with all peaks between.

Medications versus Gurus

Muscles atrophy
And nerve endings are tingling
Do you attempt to ignore,
When facing reality?

Pain owns you
No matter your positivity
Medications and Gurus
Are temporary
And you are left alone

Parents gone, love faded, friends confused, and all unintendedly wrong

Return’d

you ask me why i want to return
you say those exact words
you know it’s different now
and not sure it works

yeah i understand the notion
my old world’s moved on
like the cast of a tv sitcom
changing colonels for captains

the answer is simple
if you’d pause for empathy
the work or tribes
not the point

it’s what return means for
coming back i’ll tell you
simply indicates i’m stronger
healed enough to leave home

can ride the pony longer
almost long 4 years now
sure wasn’t perfect before
stuck in a deep foggy haze

i just need something more
more than doctors appointments
and bus rides, injections and pills
endured too many therapists and quackery

mistaken strangers for best friends
i’ve lost too much than i can count
parents, loves and pals
self-esteem and a paycheque

though to you it looks so easy

Earliest Recollections

Lansing Michigan, 1973
eating macaroni & cheese
in a damp basement
while adults whispered
windows shivered
radio crackled

and i wondered why
the tornado was coming

and then my memory began

Mexican Hammer and Nails

anticipating buying
the claw hammer in Bucerias
i’d learned 2 Spanish words
in advance

the boy, 14-ish shaggy haired
“do you need nails?”
“no just the hammer”
learning the preferred Mexican term
entirely different and dissonant
and unnecessary to the situation
“you sold me tacks yesterday”
as though he’d care

considered like a bleeding toe
in a sandy crab pinch and attached
to the words of nails and canvas