Small Town, Wide Range

Brush.
Its name its natural landmark:
Fields of undifferentiated sage
Whose pungent shadows

Stoically quake in ammoniacal air,
Wrap around calculated corners
Of feedlots and whispering cornfields,
Not daring to grow along herbicidal sidewalks.

People are born, grow old, and die here.
Running, then walking, then wheeling and finally
Wheeled around their last days in one of a dozen sterile
Hallways heralded by this home of nursing homes.

People come to Brush to die, just ask longtime locals
Or restless folk seeking teaching experience
Before they move on, back to cities or mountain hamlets
More brilliant for the existence of Brush.

I have not come here to die, but to live in hushed streets,
Empty after dark, where windows blaze blue
And small town sky stars yield to American Idol’s.
Where are the poems hiding? I didn’t want to find them, at first.

It was easier to find a poem in Crested Butte
Or Red Feather Lakes. Even their names are poems.
There, poems yodel from pine needles, dawdle
In strobed dapple of aspen leaf shadows, jaunt

Across meadows with proud antlers, sparkle
Off spectacular peaks, tremble in our knees.
But we are not a hamlet nestled in the cupped hands
Of mountains.  Our poems lie low to the ground, strangled

In language unspoken in Vail, Aspen, Boulder, whose travelers,
If they linger, if monolingual, hear a mumbled muddy Nothing
On our littered river trail. Their adrenaline loving fingers demand:
Where is rock climbing, white water, white slope?  West of here,

We say, and they go home. You have to live here a while to see
Where poems hide. And even then, you have to polish your own
Damned dullness before they shine. I know. Cupped in crooked
Knuckled sagebrush sleeps a dusty wood, a hapless, unhurried,

Bird-loved river. Flat, sandy, downright swampy when you walk
Along it in places. Between quiet columns of mullein wait
Drab flat stones, cheerful lost paint balls, grey goose feathers
And rusted bullet casings. I’m no hunter.

I gather these poems in my pockets, place them, priceless
In the hands of my young boys, who, respectively, skip, pop,
Ruffle and arrange like silos these forgotten leavings, finding
Their final use: joy.

2008

One Response to “Small Town, Wide Range”

  1. wit says:

    oh, yes this is us. How long, and long the dust lives in us, before it blows up into poetry. Mine never so delicious as this.

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