West of Winnemucca
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I never thought we would ever come across them, but somehow we did: mailboxes perched on galvanized stakes and diners sheltering elderly insomniacs staring into the irises of blue plate specials as the figures of station wagons staggered down Main Street behind venetian blinds drawn tight against the heat, peeling by the lone sign sitting on the hill: thank you for visiting…come back soon! (never)


twin streaks of dissonance

stretch themselves across

the waiting nevada heat

beckoning creatures

their spines curving inwards

throwing themselves across the pavement

bones hewn from pallet limbs

oxidized bedframes

sticking in all ways

serve best

to catch a affirmation

some misconstrued signal

of reassurance

from the plastered oncoming portholes

grimy land yachts

of edsels, fords, chevys

submerged in canisters of despondent kodachrome

their pilots

spewing conditions, clauses

false perceptions of virtues

embittered by misspent youth

erased by schoolyard tremors

regained with ice cream socs

they shoot us skewed double takes

preceding our cries

before twirling their haughty fingers

over chrome thresholds cracked low

and skimming right on by.


“what do you miss most about san francisco?”

i had been been expecting something

far different than your curt reply

slumped on overturned crates

searching for a specific something

through underlaid sores

snipping black, blue, violet


engrained within the ribbed canoes

adrift below

the concrete slip

lake tahoe

a valley and two straits removed

from the painted ladies

picturing in my head against the warped lenses

of a idyllic viewfinder

you doing twenty

bombing down hills

on your fathers old skateboard

swerving around cable cars

when golden strips pierce through fog

threading themselves through the archways of

the golden gate

illuminating a squat rock

smack dab in the middle

ol’ alcatraz


you shielded your diffused eyes

against the clippings of overloaded peterbilts

migrating west

and spoke of luke

how the day he trailed you home from school

wedging himself against the door

when you finally worked up the courage

to tell him no

he wrenched away the receiver

leaving it to dangle

dull, limp

the operator touch tones sounding off

when your fingers clawed

the bleached kitchen vinyl

your ma wouldn’t want to know

she never was one

who really cared much

for nobody high above

when sunday wanders around

peddling their sums

visceral absolutions


against stained glass barricades

packaging a crumpled gabriel

splayed across creaking rosewood pews

your pastor shook his head

turned his back


you flung a bible

which busted wide open

masking across the tiles

his mangled words

all the proverbs, corinthians, ezikels

and by diesel glazed sundown

fifty miles away

you watched my friends

crack into smiles and bray

in sheer delight as we cling

our frightened

nicotine charged


to the railings

bracing against the exploding cacophony

of a hulking steed in motion


untainted by superstition

trapped within

the time-hewn walls

of this convoluted



we are


“i never missed anything, really.”


under the peaks of the dusty sierras

the sun begins to slink

forsaking the twin streaks of hardtop

grating fast beneath our callused feet

highway signs

melting away

into nothing more but bent smears

temperas of amber, silver, green

arcing across your soiled cheek

much like a sophomore essay

grandiose notions of a silken ride

torpedoed by the clock’s waning pry

staggered paragraphs

harboring ruined testaments

reviewed with sunken eyes

stopping short only from the stamping ribbon

to search

the nails holding court

above stray cinders of newports

on pointe

with reluctant keys.



Long after the world slips into night and the nebulas and constellations slip out of their pouch and weave their lines across the darkened skies like peeling asbestos fibers ringing the open reefer door, I shamelessly dream of them: palm fronds, glistening with seawater and some sort of tropical dew, laid out on the deck to be dried, mashed, and rolled into pale manila paper, primed with a dollop of India ink before being set alight, with grandpa's old Zippo, and being sucked, in a good long drag, into my twofold lungs, those sweet vapors of paradise…solace.


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