From a heartland kind of place


Come now away from it all, the noise & distress,
hard press of numerous nuisances,
the loosing of too much mouth-
loud madness upon our house-crowded
mountains & coastlines;
sadness strip mines its way deep
into our faith-lost years,
and tears blur our vistas,
eyes burned by overload of construction
crane & quarry
in our overwhelmed deserts,
our superheated cities..
turn away then,  leave it all behind,
the nerves & shaking, the heartaching,
the pulsing peopled places..
and come with me to these wide open
spaces of heartland;
all this leafy tree sweetness
in blue shady groves,
crow-&-cicada-woven against
wet-washed cloud;
below, in rain-green acred spreads,
egg white farmhouses
on broad lawn carpets
with milk cream fences
dense with big red roses
by big red rivers
that overrun their banks,
that course & swallow & carve out
mud-red valleys
that run like broke-open wounds
after heavy thunder;
small wonder that here
in the middle of nowhere country
junction grocers still sell Grapette
sodas & pork cracklin’s, and keep
candy bars for sale in their icebox,
that still advertise weekly specials with
blue magic-marker on white newsprint,
which runs & smears indecipherable
after every rainshower;
that still plays Roger Miller’s King of the Road
and Gene Pitney’s 24 Hours from Tulsa,
that still plays the Statler Bros, pride
of Staunton Virginia, on their jukebox;

                 counting flowers on the wall,
                 that don’t bother me at all;

here the best bargains down
in the riverfront commercial block
are priceless hand-made quilts
conceived at church socials,
traced out on morning’s kitchen
tables and stitched on by arthritic
hands late into the night-darkness,
labored over for more than a year,
and then sell for pennies on the dollar;

                 playing solitaire til dawn
                 with a deck of fifty one;

here we lay beneath flowering mimosa’s,
hummingbird-feathered & drowning
fragrant after warm summer rain;
here we hide in spicy walnut woods
below massive horse-chestnut parks,
marked by ubiquitous wood-white crosses;
here a church next to everything,
here a church held inside anything,
even corrugated tin-roof warehouses,
and today a hot southern sun
beats down upon the damp heads
of the face of Christ-fanning worshippers
hymned senseless for hours on end
until the streets outside
mercilessly begin to melt;

Tonight, just before sunset, I watched
a group of pre-teen townies bunched together
on the bank of the sweltering branch,
conducting their secretive rituals
beneath rusted railroad trestles;
suddenly they look up, shout at me

                 hey you! ain’t nothing you need
                 to be lookin’ at down here-
                 Git on now, before we chase you

                 all the way back to the county line!

and I smile broadly, at safe distance,
yell back at them

Aww, don’t pay me no heed,
I just wanted to take a picture of your river,
that’s all

and I hold up my camera for them to see,
and then, just for fun, real quick-like I zoom
in on their red-sweaty faces,
focus & shoot-
they see the flash from down below,
start in to cursing me as I cross over
to the far side of the river,
which is also the county line,
which is also where I left the car;
I roar off into heartland dusk,
watching them in my rear view mirror
shake fists in a cloud of creek gravel & dust;
I watch them fade into the dark,
with all the envy & heartswell only a middle-aged
man, driving through cricket-song,
with all the windows rolled down,
singing along to the country oldies,
can muster.

                 smoking cigarettes and watching captain kangaroo
                 now don’t tell me I’ve nothing to do..