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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.
Valerie Oct 2018
He ponders on how to make the decision
One to give him satisfaction and the other displeasure
His small hands cradle the calabash gently
Cautious of the fragility of its content
He's wondering how to explain his spoil
Excited beyond yet afraid within
Still wandering in the bushes treading lightly on dead leaves,
He hears the drums go off from the village square.
A thought jumps in, too tempting to ignore!
But he must reach his destination .
Forging ahead to gratification,
He's barely acknowledged and his secret unkown.
Walking through he's pushed aside and ignored!
He pays no mind, full of smiles.
If only they knew the content of the Calabash!!!

                                          Valerie Gbinije
Sometimes we underestimate people and their worth...
Emily Jul 2018
I take out a newspaper
And I read it on my porch
My porch consists of a deck chair and a paddock
My back to my slanting house

I read articles on the yellowing page
And I read about how the world
Has gone to the dogs
It seems that all hath lost their minds

In my solace, without companionship,
I wonder if I have lost my mind too
Its been so very long since I have had
To make tea for someone

I believe the last had been my brother
Now I am the youngest sole
Of brothers three
Here on my farm,
I am free

By they near
And they are dear
To me their baby brother
That’s why I keep them
Near and dear
To me

Old stories turned to dust and ash
Not even a legend, not even a myth
After all, dead men tell no tales
Especially not about Inglewood convicts
Especially not when you put poison numb
In their tea
If my Uncle won't tell me the story of the three brothers, I shall make my own
writer18384828 Jul 2018
An uncanny and unfamiliar view: the sun gazing over the Sperrins.
Light granted sight and in the
smarting, sticky glow of day the range seemed endless.
Every peak,
protruding from plate like
vertebrae of the obscene Oilliphéist, aspired to pierce the clouds (had there been any) and
swelling like the ego of that Boeotian hunter, set Olympus and Rheasilvia to blushes.
An omnidirectional parsec of perpetual nihility that,
swallowing the senses,
renders proprioception void.
Everything suspended for a second or century under the watch of that inert sentinel, whose
magnitude mirrored the Cosmic Turtle.
Say some stray tenant of Mountsandel
had wandered through these ancient fields and looked, as I do, upon the eminence of this glen;
From now til then, this Precambrian master had aged but a second.
Words are feeble against this primordial Schist and cannot hope to evoke it.
But all perceived as hard then shifts; I see the hulk in its youth suffering
the divorce of Rodinia; drifting further from its peers – drowning.
Even now the car traced the scar carved in the little pinnacle.
Granted, it bore us tourists stoically on
Granite too pure for poetry.
Yet still I see, as clear as Sawel, the young stone struggling to breathe the noxious air;
Freezing and thawing with the trends of the earth and
Bearing it all alone.
No wonder it had become catatonic.
How fitting, that every traveller on their
commute between the Pillars of the  North,
should be forced to stare
Eden
in the eyes and acknowledge
where
earth began.
Tom Conley Apr 2018
We stopped to eat at a McDonald’s after — 
I’m sure the counter-girl could smell

the plastic-clean of stitches and nurses’ gloves
and medication hanging over him

while we ordered fries and burgers to fill
our guts before we made the long drive home.

And when we found a seat I thought that things
were fine. We sat there talking about the family,

until he spilled his drink and lost his ****,
real bad this time, and he stood and said:

“I was alive when Carpenter’s was still
the biggest bus maker around — your grandpa

lived in Tunnelton and drove to work
across the cliff to crank them out. He smelled

like oil and the dusty river all the time,
and he used to never let your mother out

at night, because he thought that cougars
were thick around his farm. You bring her back

before the frogs are calling, he’d say, you bring her
back before the cats get at her face —

my daughter there’s worth more than your life — 
she’s a queen and that’s a real queen’s face.”

He paused to **** a piece of ice and smiled,
and then he looked at all the busy people

bent up over their plastic dinner trays
looking at him, and he bit the ice and laughed.

“I never saw a cat like that. It was
the cliff that got her, and he should have watched

the river, driving by it all the time
the way he did to go and build those buses —

lots of things were rusting in the river,
and I guess the busses rusted, too. I didn’t see

a killer cat around the farm, but I saw
a thing or two that’s worse. I saw the light

they lit over her grave — you were too young
but you saw it, too: a propane thing we filled

together. You can’t buy one like that today — 
today it’s all electric and plastic stakes,

and you never have to see the grave again
after you’ve planted one of those solar lights.

It stays for good. Those lamps outlast their names — 
as long as the sun remembers to pay respects.

But I remember liting the little flame.
I remember how your grandpa’s face

lit up like a ghost’s, and I could see the scar
something large carved in his cheek one night

when he was hunting raccoons by the riverbank
out near the mouth of the Tunnel. It’s all

gone now — even the river’s lost the way
it used to smell like pines from on up north,

and only ghosts walk through the Tunnel — gone.
All of it. All gone. I guess he should have watched

the cliff, because it’s all gone now. All of it.
Even the buses rusted away, and there’s

no flame to mark the ghosts that’s left to stay — 
all we’ve got are lights that last forever.”
Vexren4000 Mar 2018
Cafe's Coffee,
Courting Patrons,
To its doors,
The aroma of fresh coffee,
Flooding the town streets,
Little cafes,
With scones and lattes,
Making people feel some peace,
Before work begins.

©BAS
Francie Lynch Mar 2018
There's a Route 22 near you.
A licorice asphalt road,
Twisting as opposing currents of time,
With anticipation and apprehension,
From home, to unknowns,
From comfort to expectations.
A rural ribbon of signage,
And milestones.

I traveled mine yesterday,
In an overdue Spring,
From Melrose to Bright's Grove.
I writhe and bend with its winding,
Former times arise like heat waves;
Mirage puddles flood my head,
Always just out of reach.

I recalled hitchhiking through Warwick,
As I backtrack,
And almost stop
For one today on the curve
Where they sell the garden gnomes.
I once looked wryly at them
When waiting across the road.

Sprawling upright over the northern landscape,
Towards the Co-ops of Arkona,
And the beer store in Thedford,
Wind farms thrive like techno giants,
In a mutant Utopian world.

****** Mary's red sign no longer hangs
Outside the white house in Lobo,
Where she could bring you in touch
With your dead.
Poplar Hill's trees no longer snow in the summer,
The water wheels are seized, barns are exposed.
The lofts collapsed.

I had to stop near a culvert, to listen to the sound of run-off,
The melt reflecting the transition under the sun,
Converging at Black Creek, Pulse Creek, or Cow Creek,
Carrying forward to the St. Clair River and Lake Huron,
Then onward and back.

Weathered iron fences enclose pioneer graves;
Settlers who cleared the dense Lambton forests,
And made the first ruts along my way,
With wagonfuls of backache.
I know well how you fared on our Route.
Warwick: In Canada, we pronounce the second "w".
Tom Conley Jan 2018
After you spilled hot cider
on the opal-purple plastic

sequins of the dress our great-
grandma bought you, we ran

down a cigarette-smoke
saturated neon alley

that dripped red blues and greens
between ivy-wrapped cracks

in the antique-brick buildings
across the lopsided street.

Carnies barked over plywood
counters draped in tablecloths,

shouting, “Prize every time!”
at kids grabbing pink ducks

from a foodcolor-blue model
of the White River, while other kids

popped balloons with darts like
the syringes our town is famous for

stabbing like stakes into undead
methed-out arms, and we hid

behind a coffin-shaped green porta-
***** near the chain-linked swings.

You held your nose in a gloved hand
and tried to dry the steaming cider

with a napkin I found hanging
half-out a yellow trashbag

full of skunked beer and flies,
and you said, through mascara-

poisoned bubbling black streams
and sour-pink lips, “Mamaw’s probably

mad enough I only won
Miss Congeniality — just imagine

how mad she’s going to be when mom
goes to the hospital tomorrow

and tells her that the cocktail-
dress she worked to death to put

her spoiled great-granddaughter in
smells like rotten apple pie!”
Brent Kincaid Nov 2017
I sit here on the side
Of my own long road
Listening to the memories
Of crickets and toads
As I remember back
To years of childhood
Spent feeling lucky
To be in the wildwood.

No car horns honking
No neighbors screaming.
No jarring realities to
Waken me from dreaming.
The breezes and the stars
The city kid changing gears
Creating a landscape that has
Resided in me through the years.

Ice cream socials and songs
Sung in the church nearby
Bringing tears to my eyes
But I did not know why.
Why did these simple folks
So very glad to be alive
Smile through the foment
Then go right on to thrive?

They had no television,
Some had radios to hear
They relied on Farmer’s Almanac
To help them through the year.
They made their way themselves,
Knew when to plant and to reap.
When to harvest and store food;
Early to rise and early to sleep

They had a car and a tractor
But seldom had to leave home.
They bought this farm
When they lost the urge to roam.
We didn’t go to movies then,
But weddings and funerals
Brought friends together;
Cousins aunts and uncles.

At summers end I went back
To the city I knew so well
And got used to being there
After a rather touchy spell.
The water tasted differently
And Grandma was a great cook.
So, a whole lifetime later
Those days deserve another look.
True story.
I wish I could go bike riding with a girl,
I wish I knew how to ride a bike...
or how to perfectly apply lipstick in a way
that looked natural.
There's something about long hair and rural roads,
leaves ruffled along the dusted trail,
perfect petals proud in the wind.
I want it all.
That perfect song during a midnight wander,
the taste of fresh oxygen on my tongue.
The feeling of two eyes locked on mine
hands so soft, fingers unbelievably smooth.
I guess there's more that will come this way,
an imaginable feeling felt only today.
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