On the Road with My Pal, Reba   Monday, November 18, 2019








Reba (RIP)



on the road with my pal, Reba

the car is packed,
luggage
and Reba in the back

a box of CD's in the
front

the drive for today,
556 miles,
San Antonio to El Paso

(you know you're in Texas
when your GPS lady
tells you,
"drive straight, 475 miles,
then turn left"

a long drive
from rocky hills
to desert sands

mostly
boring after the first
several hundred miles
and you get into the desert
where cactus
passing at 85 miles an hour
in the slow lane
begins to look
pretty much the same

I've done this many times -
it's what you have to do
from here
to get anywhere
where you can start
getting somewhere -

this trip,
getting somewhere means
Lake Tahoe
four days from now
and I'm anxious to get moving

the sun's up,
the car's packed and loaded,
breakfast is finished
and this poem is about running down
to, for better or worse,
it's conclusion

and Reba waits









I have been told my journal posts are too long.

People won't stay focused for more than 15 minutes anymore, they say.

Well, I respond, people whose attention span crumbles after 15 minutes are, as a cause or a consequence, simpletons. Why would I go to great effort to write for simpletons?

I don't. I assume that if I do my job of writing well, people with stay with me. That, at least, is my gamble.

That assumption will be tested by this post, a long one, notes in the form of poems, observations both trivial and deep, sights and incidents I consider, for one reason or another, interesting, amusing, or enlightening. They are the story of ten days on the road between San Antonio and Lake Tahoe and back to San Antonio, traveling by car, just me and my canine companion and pal, Reba for the first half of the ten days, until I pick up Dee, my wife and life-travel companion, in Reno.

Being as long as it is, I suggest it is not necessary to read all in one setting. Like a book, it can be set down and picked up again. I don't know if that helps or hinders enjoyment of the poems since they are not posted in chronological order, instead, just as I found them in my file.

Because I'm concerned about the length of this post, it is all me, with no poets from my library.

And and by the way, not all consider my poems to be poetry. Too bad. I don't care about them either.

The photos are explained in the introduction of the first poem. They are from a drive-around in the hills here about a week ago, not from the trip described by the poems.


As I said above, this post is all me.



on the road with my pal, Reba


a drive in the country

sunspots

a storm crosses Lake Tahoe

adios, Nevada

around the lake

flying

El Paso at an early hour

El Paso at an early hour, again

just passing through

sleeping with Andy Devine

I am the Postman

before time ends











I had intended for this to be a different travel post, an accounting in poetry and photos of a trip we planned to New Mexico and Colorado.  This is not that travel post because, for a variety of reasons, we ended up not doing the travel. Instead we did a one-day drive-around in the hills around San Antonio, the excursion from which these photos came.

To make up for the travel poems I did not write because of the travel we did not do, my poems for the rest of this post will be an accounting of travel we did do ten years ago. Beginning with this poem from the first day of what was a ten day journey.




a drive in the country

556 miles
and one time zone

San Antonio
to El Paso

a long day's drive
in the country

~~~~

on the ridge
a line of dead trees,
oak blight killing scrub oak
all around

reminding me of a picture
I once saw
of a lone tree,
bare and burned,
among the ruins at
Hiroshima

these trees like that,
bare limbs
black
reaching up, grasping
at the sky

in the pasture below
a mare and her foal eat grass
generous and green

~~~~

roadway
blasted through stony hills,
in the rock wall on either side
layers
of geologic time....

there,
near the top,
a woman and a man passed,
nearly human,
and down here, by my feet,
a fish
struggled,
crawled awkwardly
from the sea

~~~~

a large buck
lying
half on the grass,
half in the road

muscle and blood
and bone and heart
against
metal and plastic,
old times of safe and open graze
and new times of death on black tar

he, the
buck,
loser in a clash of kinds

~~~~

a diversion,
a small back road
to Fort Lancaster ruins,
narrow two-lane,
high mesas
on either side

the bird,
zippity-flash,
crosses the road

skinny little legs pumping,
thin neck and head
high and proud

sharp
like an arrow passing

and fast

no coyote, no
can
catch little paisano

~~~~

a cloud billows up
from the Chisos Basin

like a white rose
opening to the sun

~~~~

cane fields
afire
in Mexico

black smoke
billowing

trucks move in
behind
the fire
with cutters
to harvest the cane
to sweeten
your coffee

~~~~

El Paso
long since outgrown
its little desert-slash of river green

with its sister across the border,
a city of more than a million
built on wastelands

and its connecting ribbon
of interstate highway
at 5 p.m.
a raceway
of drivers from two countries
and three states
all hurrying to be home
first
before the wasteland shifts
and home
falls
between the cracks

~~~~

556 miles
and one time zone

San Antonio
to El Paso

a hard day's drive
in the country

stone-wrapped hills
to long-stretched fingers
of pink Chihuahua Desert

blue sky, blue on blue
on deep ocean blue sky,
to jagged clouds
dark and sharply racing

and little towns along
the way

Segovia Senora Saragossa
Sierra Blanca
Allamoore
Belhmora
and Van Horn

all pass

the miles and hours
and skies and hills
and deserts
and all the little towns

pass quickly

a roots CD mix
my son made for me -
Bela Fleck, Loudon Wainwright III,
and a woman I don't know
that I could
and did
listen to for hours









sunspots

past
white-robed mountains,
the virgin-brides
of western California

past
San Bernardino,
and the car-choked
debris
of Los Angeles

to the dry brown
hills of north Arizona

bright yellow
flowers,
bushy and thick,
climb the hills like
sunspots
across
the rising drab and dreary









a storm crosses Lake Tahoe

fifteen inches of snow in Reno
yesterday,
none here at Lake Tahoe

the day
bright and clear in the morning
and we drive some number of miles
around the lake, taking pictures
along the way

a change begins now

from my tenth floor window
I watch snow clouds
cross the north mountains,
then begin a slow
drift across the water
toward us

the "little cat feet"
whisper
over cold water

the wind below
picks up,
stirs up little storms
of dust
as the larger storm
draws near

first flurries
drift
past my window









adios, Nevada

it is the last day
before we start home,
for me,
it's been
a week on the road
and I am ready
for my own front door
and my own back yard

the day
started really bad
but has cleared up since noon
to bright sunshine
and drying streets
so it's almost like I'm sorry to go

but truth is,
I'm not

I don't ski and I don't gamble
so the question rises,
what the hell am I doing here

the answer to that
is like the joke about the man
who comes home after a business trip
to find his wife, naked,
in the bedroom - and, when
he opens the door to the closet
to hang up his coat,
finds another man, also
naked,
what the hell are you doing here?
he shouts,
well, everybody gots to be somewhere,
the naked man replies

and I guess that's why I'm here

everybody gots to be somewhere

but I don't think I'll be back...

Nevada
pulls a Puritan side out of me
I didn't know was there

where ever I go in the state
I catch a stench
of corruption

casinos everywhere,
slots everywhere,
losers everywhere

Las Vegas -

a city built in the desert
for suckers
by east-coast gangsters
looking for a place to run their rackets
without having to worry too much
about honest cops
and honest judges and it all worked so well
the stench
crossed the state like a plague of iniquity

the mountains
are a majestic spectacle that lifts the heart,
but it's over 1,700 miles
from home

I can get bigger and better mountains
500 miles closer

that's the wonder of travel
without expectation -

finding the places, large and small,
that feed your soul and imagination

and the other places
that show you why you value
all the elsewheres you've ever been

so tomorrow
we leave, through California,
which turns out to be the fastest way
back to San Antonio

another surprise
to end the
week









around the lake

rain
snow
ankle-deep
slush puddles
on streets
and sidewalks

mountains
on the other side
of the lake
as well as those
hanging above us
hidden
by clouds
that settle over us

in our South Texas home
a city-wide emergency
would have been declared
hours ago, but here,
people walk on the sidewalks,
cars drive on the streets,
skier line up to take a lift to
a mountain top
whose existence must,
under these conditions,
be taken on faith

yellow school buses
pass
snow chains clanking

Reba and I go for a walk
at lakeside,
in a park I found yesterday

we are not the first
to break the snow, little
duck tracks, triangles
divided by a line
from point to base,
and tracks of some bird
of a larger sort, tridents
in the snow

a white sailboat sits
offshore
half-hidden in the
snow

there yesterday
as well

home, home
on the lake

where
the carp
and the pelicans
roam










flying

a cold mean
day

rain blown
like bullets
by a hard
north wind

on the road
I enter
and underpass
and pigeons

a flock of ten
or twelve

fly down
from the girders

fly in front of me

and for a moment
I am in the cold
rainy sky

flying with them











El Paso at an early hour

deep desert
blue
seeping
through the black
night sky
even before
the first peach of sunrise
shows behind
the mountains

a quiet Sunday morning

just like in the
movies


El Paso at an early hour, again

the air is desert
chill -

a pink thread
on the east horizon
suggests the coming
of a rising sun -

stench of low-grade diesel carried
by low morning
winds
crosses the border
from Cuidad Juarez,
its people
a million strong
waking in the dark,
their yellow lights
flicker
like stars flung
across
the mountainside -

the pink thread
widens -
a showing light
spreads -

from the north foothills
a coyote
howls









just passing through

passing through
Anthony, New Mexico,
just north of the state line

the rich manure-stink
of dairy farms,
one after the other,
black and white cows
like flies
on a steaming pile
of fresh cow pies

in each lot,
a hill,
and on each hill
a cow,
sometimes two...

why?

why do they seek
these hills, this elevated outlook -
do even dairy cows
carry the instinct of high places,
places to see prey
and predator before they see you?

and how?

how,
among hundreds of placid
dairy cows
is the one chosen that is allowed
this high place?

~~~~

a little past Radium Springs
on I-25,
on the left,
foothills of sand and rock
and desert bushes, beyond them

mountains

on the right
a Rio Gande river-delta valley,
green and cultivated
fields,
pecan orchards,
houses
stores
church steeples
yellow school buses
flashing
red lights
on a two-lane
highway

hanging over all this,
mountains

~~~~

just as I leave Hatch,
houses,
lean-tos
hanging with red Hatch
chili peppers,
rounding a curve
in the highway -

first snow...

~~~~

a lake
on the right,
natural?
man made?

a little community
of small houses and mobile homes

and in each driveway
a boat

~~~~

a hawk,
dead in the middle of the road,
a casualty
of flying too low,
flying to slow

a single wing
like a flag stands
above the mess
of bloody,
mangled meat and bone  -

brown and white feathers
flutter
in the wind

~~~~

I stop
for a burger
at a little town
on I-20
named after a
TV game show
from the early fifties
that mostly everyone who might remember
is dead

the menu says
"best cheeseburger in southern New Mexico"

that might not have been
the entire and unvarnished truth

and I'm suffering the
consequences

I wonder if Bob Barker
ever ate there

~~~~

the GPS lady
gets insistent,
angry, even -

she wants me to take
Route 6
from Los Lunas
to I-40,
passing west
of Albuquerque

but I want to go through
Albuquerque
for dinner at a favorite
restaurant
in Old Town

make a
U-turn
in 300 feet, she says to me
when I skip the exit
she wants me to take

make a U-turn
at your first opportunity
she says
after I ignore her

make a U-turn,
she says,
make a U-turn
make a U-turn
make a U-turn

until she quits,
sulks,
has a drink, maybe

picks me up again in Albuquerque

I am not forgiven
but I will continue to be
indulged

~~~~

about halfway
between Albuquerque
and Gallup,
a lava field,
curiously, on only one side of the road

black lava rock scattered all across the desert
and on up the side of the foothills

that's on one side,
on the other,
just plain old desert sand and gravel

how many million years ago,

two million?
three million?

a New Mexico Dept of Transportation
civil engineer
stands where the road will be

no lava past here,
he demands

the Great-To-Be-State of New Mexico
claims it
now and in perpetuity
he vows,
we'll have no volcano mess
on our right -of-way

~~~~

nearing Gallup,
I reach the snow level,
patches first,
mostly in shadowed areas
where the day's sun
could not reach

then more and more,
until the desert is covered in white,
a thin layer,
little individual sprigs
of desert grass poke through
here and there,
like Kilroy
with a really bad haircut

~~~~

my hotel
is too new for GPS,
but I find it
after a couple miles driving in the wrong
direction,
and a quick pass through downtown
one pawn shop
and quick loan emporium
after another,
giving hard evidence
to the widely promised economic
development and prosperity
following legalization of
casino gambling

then,
Reba gets her walk,
we settle in,
our home for the night
on Route 66










sleeping with Andy Devine

cold and wet
leaving Gallup,
colder
and wetter
passing into Arizona

40 miles in, I pass
a billboard

"God Bless America"

immediately
the rain stops
clouds part
& sun streams
from the heavens

(sorry,
I'm still not convinced)

and it started
raining again twenty miles
further down the road
anyway

~~~~

bum
sleeping
under a pile of dirty clothes
in the handicap restroom stall
at the first stop
in Arizona

can't
begrudge
a cold man
a little warmth, but
if I was a bum
I sure as hell wouldn't
be here
now

that's what God made
California for -
so bums
could sleep in the park

~~~

through the high desert,
flat
as far as you can see

then mountains
on the horizon, north and west

snow capped

~~~~

past the homes
of poor rural people
on either side

several dogs
in front,
a horse
and two or three goats
standing on a rusted Studebaker
in the back

way the hell away
from everything...

I know these people,
or their cousins
from further south

grew up with them

this is Navajo country
so I guess the folks are Indian
or Native American
or First Peoples
or...

as a German-Irish-Scot-
Polish-Jew-Cherokee-Spanish-
Arab-white boy mutt, true product
of the war, famine, pestilence,
flood, volcano earthquake
romance and lust of history's
melting pot,
I sometimes don't know
the nomenclature
preferred
by those of a less complicated
lineage

~~~~

strong winds pushing across me,
fight me,
steady pressure
pushing me toward
the shoulder

tumble weeds
whip across the road
in front of me,
chasing the wind,
never catching it

I've known people like this,
blown always
by capricious
winds,
never finding
rest

~~~~

I see a buffalo
in its shaggy brown
coat
eating green sprouts
between giant red boulders

that's buffalo,
not bison,
Bison Bill is too ludicrous
to consider

~~~~

passing
the turn-off
to the petrified forest

I had seen it before
when I was a kid,
through my 3-D circular
hold-it-up-to-your-face
slide thing
that I got one year for Christmas, but
was still
impressed later
when seen directly
by the immensity of time
as measured by living things
turned to rock

my son,
seven at the time,
was less so,
but he's studying geology now
so maybe some connection
was made

~~~~

dense white clouds
cover the horizon ahead -

snow
rain
or dust storm,
not what I'd like to see

~~~~

sleet-
the strong winds
even stronger -
throwing
ice pellets
like BB shot

~~~~

approaching Flagstaff
I realize I had been here before,
20 years ago,
the same year we stopped at
the petrified forest,
a trip to the Grand Canyon,
Dee and I, our son, and
my mother
who always looked forward
to traveling with us, so anxious
to see the Grand Canyon, but
upon arriving, so overcome by acrophobia,
one of the early signs of her decline,
that I couldn't talk her out of the car to look

~~~~

lunch in Flagstaff

light snow

then,
moving on
through the national forest
and between the mountains
the snow gets much worse,
blowing hard
across the road,
the sky closes in
and the temperature
drops to near freezing...

finally,
after ten miles of steep
decline,
I'm back near desert level

the clouds clear,
the temperature goes back up
and fat driving snowflakes
hitting my windshield
turn to fat splashing raindrops

as the weather clears,
Reba
returns
to her bed in the back
after,
sensing sub-tropic boy's tension
on this freezing icy highway,
she had moved up to lay at
my elbow

~~~~

relieved
as the weather clears,
I begin to think of coffee
as the little town of Winslow
approaches

and on a roadside sign,
"Mojo's Gourmet Coffee"

just in time

I find Mojo's
and a skinny barista with more tattoos
than lots of folks have skin,
and in the corner
a small group of old cowboys
sitting at a round table,
some just listening,
two singing
and picking their guitars -
country ballads, Marty Robbins
and the like, and some of their own
composing

"I once loved a girl in
Albuquerque," sang one

"I wanted to be a cowboy,"
sang the other
as I was leaving,
"but I was always afraid of cows"

~~~~

finally,
the end of the day
and my stop for the night
in Kingman,
getting close now to Nevada

my hotel is on
Andy Devine Trail

(Andy Deaven, stress on the "Dea"
the GPS lady
pronounces it - god save us
from such modern
ignorance)

but I'm happy anyway,
cause fat old Andy was
one of my heroes when I was
a kid
and I am pleased and proud
to spend a night
on his street

made me want to go outside
and pluck
my magic twanger








I am the Postman

Nevada
in my mind
was another Texas.Panhandle,
further north
and colder in winter,
but basically just another flat
prairie
of cactus, sand and rock
stretching
from one horizon to the next

now
I know

Nevada has mountains

lots

~~~~

crossing Hoover Dam

stopping at an overlook
to view the view
and let Reba out to do her business

just as we arrive,
three busloads of foreign tourists

Asians,
probably Japanese,

Indians,
of the from-India kind

and Latinos,
probably Mexicans, but
possibly
of a further south origination

Reba basks
in the international attention

but forgets to do her
business

~~~~

the dam
itself is most impressive
for the parts
you cannot see

the stories and songs
of its building,
American classics

like the transcontinental railroad

I think of the railroads
every time I pass through the mountains,
thinking of what it took

to build a railroad across these great heights
and divides

blood, sweat, tears,
and along with that, corruption
at every level
that greased the process to completion

why cannot we do these great things
anymore?

is it that we hoard
the blood,
avoid the sweat,
use up our ration of tears
on Dr. Phil?

or is it the corruption?

the problem,

is it that our politicians
are not corrupt enough
to do great things, or,

or is it that our corrupt politician
are not daring enough, small-time
and penny-ante even in their greed?

~~~~

snow clouds
flow
over mountain peaks
on both sides of me

like buttermilk
over hot cornbread

~~~~

light snow
dusts desert stones
and plants
with points of silvery
shadow

the snow falls
faster
and soon they all
sport white
caps

until
all disappear
under a white sea

~~~~

a herd of horses,
twenty or thirty of them,
chase and play
in a field of snow

~~~~

past Hawthorn
my route begins
to take me into new mountains

soon
I am high above
what seems to be
a very large lake

but
heavy snow obscures
all details

~~~~

I crest
the last of the latest section
of mountains
and laid out before me,
a vast valley,
a basin surrounded
by peaks,
covered white
like a fresh tablecloth
at a New York
Bistro

~~~~

no problems
with ice on the road
until three miles from my destination,
the freeway
into the city
like a skating rink,
pile-ups.
three or four cars
in each,
one after another

and so I end
nearly 600 miles of driving today

very slowly

~~~~

across Nevada
east to west

rain
sleet
fog
bright sunlight
and heavily falling snow
but I am not deterred
from my rounds

no longer the Walrus -

I am the Postman








before time ends

ten days -

five states,
snow in four of them

back home
now
where the edge
of spring
arrives too soon
and will pass quickly
to summer,
too hot
and too long

trying to get back into
the zone

where days
are measured
not by calendars
and dates
and miles passed
and to-dos done,
but by the passing of the sun
east to west,
and cycles of the moon,
full to dark,
and by poems written
and quiet moments
when a contemplative life
seems
not a waste of time
but a harvesting
of the fruits of time

peace,
a slower heart beat,
time,
before time ends












I appreciate hearing from readers. Although they do not appear here, your comment,, if you choose to make them is available to me. So feel free to pass on any reaction, comments, or opinions by clicking on the "comment" button below.


As usual, everything belongs to who made it. You're welcome to use my stuff, just, if you do, give appropriate credit to "Here and Now" and to me



Also as usual, I am Allen Itz owner and producer of this blog, and a not so diligent seller of books, specifically these and specifically here:

Amazon, Barnes and Noble, iBookstore, Sony, Copia, Garner's, Baker & Taylor, eSentral, Scribd, Oyster, Flipkart, Ciando and Kobo (and, through Kobo,  brick and mortar retail booksellers all across America and abroad



Poetry

New Days & New Ways


Places and Spaces 




Always to the Light


Goes Around Comes Around



Pushing Clouds Against the Wind


And, for those print-bent, available at Amazon and select coffeehouses in San Antonio

Seven Beats a Second



Fiction

Sonyador - The Dreamer



                                                            

  Peace in Our Time









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On the Road with My Pal, Reba
A Conversation With Bob Marley
Hard Times
Secrets Revealed
An Exercise in Swine Abatement
Who Will Be the Poet Then?
Discussing the True Nature of Things With My Dog
Protecting Our Constitutional Rights
White -Boy World
The Price of Potatoes in Pittsburgh
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Wild Poetry Forum
Blueline Poetry Forum
The Writer's Block Poetry Forum
The Word Distillery Poetry Forum
Gary Blankenship
The Hiss Quarterly
Thunder In Winter, Snow In Summer
Lawrence Trujillo Artsite
Arlene Ang
The Comstock Review
Thane Zander
Pitching Pennies
The Rain In My Purse
Dave Ruslander
S. Thomas Summers
Clif Keller's Music
Vienna's Gallery
Shawn Nacona Stroud
Beau Blue
Downside up
Dan Cuddy
Christine Kiefer
David Anthony
Layman Lyric
Scott Acheson
Christopher George
James Lineberger
Joanna M. Weston
Desert Moon Review
Octopus Beak Inc.
Wrong Planet...Right Universe
Poetry and Poets in Rags
Teresa White
Camroc Press Review
The Angry Poet