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Feb 22
Way out,
where there is nothing but walnut groves and train tracks,

the three of us found a place to cut loose
and be the punks we wanted to be.

Way out,
where we found a few patches of weeds, abandoned farm equipment, decayed foundations, a toppled barn, and a dry canal,

we brought  spray paint,
****** beer,
and threw rocks at the passing trains.
We built bonfires and howled and no one cared.

One day,
an old man
in a wrinkled hat  
pulled his truck in to the tall grass
and watched us.
We hid our cigarettes as if he cared.

I walked over
but before I could say hello or ask his name or give some poor excuse for our behavior,
he said,
“I was born here.”

Here?
Here, there was was nothing.
Old silos, maybe.
No houses.
No town.
No place to be born.
Just a place for kids like us to scrawl **** graffiti on pallets and rusted truck trailers, ditched and forgotten.

“Used to be a town,” he said.
“Your standing in the post office.”
At my feet the cement slab crumbled into the weeds.

It is here that I wish this poem was about a tender moment where an old man taught a young man about a hidden past.
Or that this poem reminded us about the secrets hidden all around us, if we just look.
It could be about a regained wonder for our elders or about memory or a certain flower that he pointed out which blooms in our ghost towns of nostalgia and how that flowers Latin name means something that becomes a grand metaphor for rebirth...

But it’s not and he drove off without another word.

We picked up our spray paint and threw beer bottles against the canal bank, shattering them in a place no one else would notice
except that old man,  
who would see my vulgarity
and poor attempt at artistic protest haphazardly sprayed
over the last place he can remember seeing his mother, by the backdoor,
that autumn evening he left and took that job in Sacramento.
Written by
Jake Dockter  Cisgender Male/PDX, OR
(Cisgender Male/PDX, OR)   
105
 
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