Back in town from Mommy's Special Camping Trip with a big haul of poems. I keep thinking I'm never going back again, but as my acupuncturist says: "There aren't many places you can get that many insights in three days without destroying your marriage or your job." I'm speed-dating the cosmos. For all the discomfort and awkwardness, it's still the greatest place I've found yet to wander around drunk with gratitude toward people you don't even know. These are just fast snapshots written on the drive home and between loads of laundry. I would love to hear whether they work at all for people who don't know the setting.
No one would ever swing from that chandelier.
That’s reassuring. Two melody lines
From the fiddles entwine in the warmth,
And nobody minds when the singer forgets
A few lines—“something about knife,
Something about wife”—because
We’re all fucking family here.
Most people want it in the morning, but
They get to it in different ways. Some use the scent
As a cue to speak their aubades, an excuse to roll
Out of the tumbled blankets and ease down the road.
Others stumble out alone and shivering, chasing
The promise of warmth. Then there are those
Who ignore the call and turn to one another,
Not minding the salty lips,
Or that there may not be any coffee left
By the time they get there. When I went
To get my cup, the sugar was gone,
But there were many other kinds of sweeteners offered.
Tower of Power
It’s all in black and white on the screen,
Sharp as a tuxedo at 9 p.m., cool
As the condensation on the shaker.
“I am like an island adrift that would like to unite with a continent.”
Maintaining the border matters. Two saguaros, once stately,
Now sagging, hold the line, their strange and dangerous spines
Suspiciously like bars. Beyond them lies a nation
Of fast patter and shifting images. You only get a glimpse,
But the people in the pictures look happy.
Whiskey and Whores
So a woman walks into a bar,
Takes a seat, asks the bartender for a light,
Pulls something out of her bag. One cowboy
Jackrabbits to the couch, grabs a snoozing blonde,
Tries to dive into her mouth for cover. But the Woman
With No Name just passes it around, and everyone takes a shot.
The men tell stories other people made up, in other places.
They’re all accustomed to taking the spin, the chance, and the consequences.
Outside, a turtle lumbers down the dirt road,
Stops to feed on a wilted rose, its jaws snapping the stem,
Working its way to the bud.
Then the Mariachi comes strolling by the bar,
Armed with nothing more than ordinary guile.
Long shots from three points of view, and some
Rapid-cycle close-ups on the eyes.
The Mariachi speaks three short, honest sentences
And sweeps the Woman up in his arms and carries her off.
Her pleasure makes the lantern sway on the pole.
The caravan stopped here and spilled its cargo
Of quilts and cat-eyed poets. Cardamom scents the air
From the bubbling samovar at the next camp.
Parti-colored flags flutter above a pair of reclining lovers,
As a flame-haired woman reads aloud
From a book of prophecy.
Bright tangles of candy twine,
Candy jewels awash among the flotsam—
What’s dropped at the amusement pier
Piles up around the jetty’s sturdy legs.
Holding the long line, they pull together on the canvas
As one, tugging it over the dome and lashing it to the poles.
What will happen here requires that the circle
Stay in close contact with the earth. It may be
It would like to float away like a big balloon
And take its cargo back to Kansas.
What you learn here is that there is always
Another way to get home.
Photo: Don Draper gets hip to the beats. Permission? I don't need no stinking permission.