Tag Archives: progress

CONFLAGRATION

 

 

When we were children,
we played among the wrecks
of old cars and horse-drawn

wagons with wooden spokes
that hemmed the orchards
that sustained us—families

scattered round distant towns
we could visit
with ripe imaginations.

Bigger now, cities spreading
like amoeba ingesting farms
and one another, like wildfires burning

closer as convenient conflagrations
that have erased the landmarks
where we hung our memories.

It could be creeping senility
that I embrace, a watercolor wash
across pastoral landscapes

rather than the spinning pace
of progress—perpetual motion
like the galaxies of space.

 

WAY OUT WEST, 2016

 

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Robbin and I know where we belong, that we have grown old while the world has changed around us. We think of our parents and grandparents, understand their frustrations with progress.

The Academy of Western Artists “seeks to preserve the traditional values associated with the cowboy image despite consolidation in the cattle industry and changes in contemporary society. The group hosts an annual awards show.”

Yesterday, with two of our cattle neighbors, we were headed to Forth Worth to meet my son who had flown in from San Francisco, where I was to receive the Buck Ramsey Cowboy Poet of the Year award and have some fun. This morning we’re on Dry Creek, he’s in Fort Worth.

                                        ~

We know the feeling of corrals
in airports, and prepare ourselves
to be bunched-up, to wait in lines
at every gate—to follow rules

for humans. We should have known
red fire trucks as an omen,
but we loaded-up, anyway,
found our seats and waited.

I was a mountain man in another life
dodging Indians and ole Ephraim,
knew them all and their stories
and started reading. About the time

Hugh Glass met the grizzly’s cubs,
the captain came on the intercom
to say it’ll be a short, or long, wait
to leave for Dallas, to find the trouble

with the engine gauge, maybe just
a loose wire. I am a slow reader,
but by the time they started patching
Hugh Glass’s bloody body up,

we deplaned to rebook our flight—
190 head, three hours in the lead-up
to be processed. No way to get
to Dallas and keep the four of us

together, no other plane to haul
the human cargo—no way to share
awards and ceremony. (They kill
the man
, anyway, Jeffers said.)

Way Out West beyond the claustrophobe,
we should be proud of plans
that we expect—that have to get—
the work done, where we depend

on few, but in the corrals, numb
humans herding humans used to
to corporate calculations failing—
we treat ourselves and cattle better.

                                          for Temple Grandin