California Desert Redux

California Desert Redux

A Poem by kentuck14


CALIFORNIA DESERT REDUX

I.
Back in Barstow by the motel pool--
the evening sun warm, the air cooler
in the approaching shadow of the lodging.
The desert, the distant mountains to the east
are a glowing light brown, still empty,
                 still intimidating.
A bird chirps contentedly in a nearby tree
as I write in my journal the long day’s
journey from Devonshire Street . . .

II.
In Santiago a young man who served us
milkshakes, gave me directions, and asked
            where I was heading.
Half jokingly, I said, “New York State,”
then felt compelled to be more sociable:
“This is different country than New York.”
“Yeah,” he says, “It’s desert all around here--
            except in Oregon.”
I wondered, how far from the desert
had this affable young man traveled
               in his short life? How far will he go?
My thoughts were not all about distance.

III.
Stepped on gum in the parking lot
of the E-8-Burger joint--upsetting me;
been a long day on the road. Nearby,
A young girl let me pet her pony.
“He won’t hurt you,” she said reassuringly.
Astonishing how recovered this made me feel.

IV.
Young people have just got in the pool--
exclaiming in what sounds like German
at the coolness of the water no longer
in the direct rays of the setting sun.

Tomorrow we will say goodbye to
California and head east into the hot
Nevada desert filled with sagebrush,
stones, rocky wart-like eruptions
and those ungraceful clumps of cacti.
I am grateful for the angels of mercy
that followed us up and down these
highways on the very edge of the west.

© 2020 kentuck14


Author's Note

kentuck14
The last of my An American Journey West

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Reviews

I wish I'd traveled thru the deserts in my youth with a dad like you at the helm! Being a clan of 9 kids, often a few strays along, my dad would put the pedal to the metal to get thru deserts, rather than deal with sweaty barefoot complaining kids running around & trying to herd all back into the car. I always love the unique & startling observations you share that make each of these journeys quite unlike anything anyone has ever taken! (((HUGS))) Fondly, Margie

Posted 1 Year Ago


kentuck14

1 Year Ago

Margie, Thx for your generous review.
T
we drove our van conversion all down through this area on a couple of different occasions
One for fun, and once over Scottsdale when the kids were involved in bike racing.
Living among trees, I always loved the desert but on one occasion in Barstow it got so incredibly hot I thought we were going to melt
Good story telling

Posted 1 Year Ago


This feels quite contemplative, but also like willing oneself to be in the moment while the moment still exists. The end of any journey seems to bring both thoughtfulness and anticipation. So much to look ahead to, so much to look back on.

I like your character studies here, and the musing on the landscapes. The US is so vast and varied, but sometimes it’s easy to forget when the immediate landscape is repetitive.

My favorite part of this poem is the conversation with the young man and the thoughts it triggers. How far will any of us travel. And thank God when we make it back unscathed.

A great series, Tom. I’ve really enjoyed reading these.

Posted 1 Year Ago


kentuck14

1 Year Ago

Thanks for your comments .. . glad you enjoyed the series.
T
Our country truly offers us a panoramic pallet. Your style of writing strings authentic images and character studies together in rich, detailed, evocative language. It is a road trip of personal experiences and profound observations. You offer us similarities and contrasts, unapologetic starkness and, always, beauty. This is a most memorable and excellent write. Kudos!

Posted 1 Year Ago


kentuck14

1 Year Ago

Thanks so much for your kind words. Glad you enjoyed.
T
"rocky wart-like eruptions / and ungrateful cacti"
wow....love those images...
and being from good old NY, i appreciate the references...
and remember how different my old city, Bronx, was from upstate NY and the beauty there.
from skyscrapers to open pasture land, wonderful farms...postcard pictures wherever we looked...
j.

Posted 1 Year Ago


kentuck14

1 Year Ago

Yes . . . NY is a state of many faces. In some ways I miss it . . . in others . . . no. It lacks a d.. read more

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Added on February 28, 2020
Last Updated on February 28, 2020

Author

kentuck14
kentuck14

Lexington, KY



About
Started reading and writing poetry while in the Army many years ago. I picked up a book of poems by Leonard Cohen in a bookshop on Monterrey CA's Fisherman's Wharf and went on from there. I've had a n.. more..

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