i threw a guitar at him. CC
At the Shoe Fence in Rice, California
No one today on HWY 62 between the Colorado
and Ash Hill is wearing shoes. Ghost bikers
pass me, and twenty-four marines who passed
in wrecks on this barren perform a silent drill.
History is a broken axel of the southbound
whistle, the train whirling through the air,
crashing, and crushing passengers beneath it.
Afterwards, torn articles of clothing appear
on a lone tamarisk, bone bleached, until a fire
burns it to a husk and a fence is raised
to enclose the plot. Tongues, toes, heels, eyes,
and arches—parts of shoes now hang from it.
Who am I to say if the passing is a phantasm
of a radiant Mojave mirage? or barefoot prophets
of ragged sack cloth with nothing to say to me?
and to question the elder woman in the rear
who carries corals out of the paleozoic sea
and when they die she says their ghosts
walk barefoot to live toward the western sea
and some after they die live like owls?
But look at the chucking of all those shoes
hanging from the fence, no longer needed,
as if a schoolyard of children out on recess
decided to skip barefoot and never returned.
Now I am where I have forever wanted to be,
and I bless the wrong turn, the detour,
the mistake of excess weight I hauled,
the breakdown and the wreck.
How could I have known there would be
such beatitude? Here in this dead bar
with jukebox Freeman staring through me
and saying to the keep ‘Anders is a ghost?
I’d like to celebrate with him the haunting
of the blind curve where my techy watch
notified my loved ones of catastrophe -
See the dying light morph into a ghost,
my semblance—and give a thumb’s up?
Now I am where I have forever wanted to be.
Richard Long is Professor Emeritus of English at St. Louis Community College, now retired in Santa Rosa, California. For the last twenty-five years, he has edited and published 2River (www.2River.org), quarterly publishing The 2River View and occasionally publishing individual authors in the 2River Chapbook Series. Poems of his have appeared recently in Black Coffee Review, Red Wheelbarrow, TravelArtist Hub, and UCity Review.
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