Kansas Drive Log by Eric Dodson
January 4, 2011
Old houses, crumbled barns, oil pumps in yellow fields,
clustered puffs of evergreen bushes,
rolls of hay, stark hedgerows,
one-lane bridges catching sideways sunlight,
dusty gravel lanes, birds of prey on point,
cows munching on frozen grass,
partially frozen ponds with scales of ice,
and flocks of birds sitting low upon the scales,
connected with their ancient reptile heritage.
Cold, rusty railroad tracks, antique windmills,
dogs giving chase.
Lean-tos leaning past.
Trail of dust, bent fence posts, feeding troughs,
tin whistles, frosty sod, scent of burning hickory.
Access roads and abscess trails. Fallow fields and future tallow.
Talons ready, roundabout in the middle of nowhere.
Icy pond froth, “shoulder work ahead.”
Conical conifers, frigid aquifers.
“Keep right except to pass.”
Lines of runoff erosion down man-made hillsides.
Partially-submerged boulders, and snake village ghost-towns.
Pavement smeared with deer and post-deer.
Obstacle course of plastic chairs at highway speeds.
Truck behind me doesn’t miss.
A kissed mist of shattered chair, disintegrating into the air
as their owner watches from the side of the road,
waiting to pick them up after the traffic passes.
Music from airwaves bleeding into metal rod and circuitry.
Conduction / induction / reduction.
Yard covered in feeding birds that sound like
a combination of squealing brakes and steaming miasma.
January 11, 2011
Peaks and crests of over-blown snow,
snow blown over, and over.
Shrill wind seeps leaky past window seals,
ruffling past, roiling at highway speeds.
What birds there are out here this morning
are frozen into place, floating motionless on air currents,
or flapping extra vigorously,
so as to mitigate icing-over of the wings.
Transporting blues across county lines,
gotta lower my head and just drive, make no eye contact,
the birds may notice my reportage.
Fingertips split open with annoying pain.
Body tired, back tense . . . and lower.
Need to stretch out under covers, unencumbered by clothing,
unencumbered by divisions.
Austere tree pantomime in stark fields of snow-cover
with only golden dormant grasses protruding.
Rusty corrugated shed roofs hold geometric slabs of untouched snow.
Sideways looker lady driving by, concerned.
It’s ok, these blues are strapped down. Safety first.
Miniature forest casts long striations across my brainwave patterns.
Not quite to the place where we wave to one another passing in the road.
Animal tracks and all-terrain vehicles, lines weaving, woven.
Closed-circuit crop circles leaving messages for those
not too far above or to the side.
Residual latent referential evocation
of antique farm implements parked at field edge.
Dogs giving unwise chase, running out in front of me,
nearly run over. Nice survival instincts. How are you going to protect
your owners if you run out in front of a passing vehicle?
Think about balance, man.
I’m from here, but I’m not from right here.
I’ve been here a million times
besides the three or four in real life.
Misread crossroad signs as “287th and Walrus.”
Shamble village of the atomic model.
Mostly space between.
Yellow house, red water pump handle.
Back to yellow dotted lines, red barns and shutters,
rusty access gate.
Frosted icing on a giant, golden grain-based pillow roll.
Gold brown white. Gold brown white. Touches of green.
Man-made orange. Man-made blue, sky house.
Pale yellow house.
Mild green forest house.
“Keep Kansas clean.”
Stone walls terraced with trees within. Long-abandoned foundation
only now visible with their top edges lined with snow,
coal cars stopped below on cold tracks winding under the highway
and slinking through the trees along the river.
These views always hold their modest power to intrigue,
but even more so when elicited by another.
Brush-pile fire sends smoke signals saying that the sky has gone away.
But only right here.
Superliminal sublingual sublet
diverting constant internal chatter into
trickling spigot set open enough to flow freely,
just the right amount of pressure.
No pipe freeze.
“California, Santa Fe, and Oregon Trails crossed here.”
And here. And here.
Contemplation of the historical residue superimposed
over the consciousness of the current driver
in the act of driving.
March 7, 2011
Another gray Kansas drive. These trips south-westerly always elicit enhanced wordflow. Longer stretches of uninterrupted driving, and reminders of the kind of space from which I came.
“Keep right unless passing.”
Brown sticks, golden crunchy stems,
dry leaves of grass drained of their color,
all longing to flourish again,
to re-live the chlorophyll dream,
sunlight into green.
Even the evergreens are faded.
“Be prepared to stop.”
Crop tree groves lay dormant,
pointing spikey limbs upward,
Rubber ball caught in storm drain gutter
with snakey molted tire rubber,
like a mangled alligator reaching for the ball,
which is just barely too large to fit down the opening,
escaping into the drain system.
Squeezing from the aching sponge . . .
poetry, art, love, grandeur,
letting it drip down hands and arms
in celebratory revelry,
swimming in the beautiful waves of
the pangs of incompletion,
needing more of it.
Landscape half full of emptiness,
half empty of wanting, waiting,
diligently doing that which is natural,
with silent, unthinking hope
for that which comes next.
Originally published in 2012 as a part of the exhibition Have I Been Here Before?
presented by Charlotte Street Foundation at La Esquina, Kansas City, MO.