Dropping altitude west on I-90
Into a snarl of setting summer sun
I lose shepherding ponderosa pines just east of the Fishtrap exit
Sagebrush swells to promise a West as authentic as
Gene Autry’s yodel and Pat Brady’s jeep.
I relish baroque parings of viola d’amore and oboe d’amore over basso continuo
From the NPR radio waves stalking me –
German artists even then toyed with a pawky shred of the grotesque in their tunes.
That Teutonic possessiveness makes its last stand in Adams County
Where Hutterite colonies keep Jesus’s promise of male dominance aglow.
Then just as I hit the Grant County line
Telemann and Graupner static off
Into noventa dos punto tres en Pasco
And trumpets, accordions and tubas swell in corridos de amor Mexicano.
Wheat fields roll brown then bubble into circulos verdes de maize, patatas, y menta
As mestizo families at the Seven Eleven
Habla Espanol to the clerks with an Oxacan accent.
Ephrata can pretend the official court language
May be some derivation of the King’s English
But Spanish interpreters hover as near and dear as our guardian angels.
Sue, I was thinking of you on the drive
Packard is such a proper English name
You told me how far back you could trace it to
One traveling lad from a certain English village
The source for all those gravestones
Standing tall in the Shenango Valley Cemetery of our old transition town Greenville
Lying under sycamore and red oaks
Green from Eostar to Samhain.
I’ve wandered this semi-desert so long
That deciduous green seems so unnatural
As to be almost pornographic.
Once I leave the freeway at Moses Lake then tack north
Into the great Sargasso Sea of sagebrush
The setting sun grins a feathered serpent
Eyes aglow staring me down – no Packards in sight –
Then Maria Garcia at my motel cautions me
The doors are sealed at ten,
I turn to seek board before I room.
Mickey D’s and BK flash gang signs at each other
And the mom and pop taquerias shuttered have wiped their mesas clean.
Ahead as bright as the illuminated cross next to the radio tower on the brown hill above
On Basin Street across from Lopez Farm Implements
Lay Taco Bell’s drive through lane abuzz-
I honor the food and its founder
Too much to drive through and run-
And as well I never know how many hot sauce packets
I must tear to bank the chili fires
That remind me the spark of my life burns bright still-
Lupita of the dark eyes and Mayan nose
Smiles at me wearing her polyester uniform and billed cap
In a flash swirls up my XXL Grilled Stuffed Burrito
And Crunchwrap Supreme
Ready to receive their Fire and Diablo communion.
A Hebrew name for Bethlehem
Ephrata’s promise of resurrection never changes
Unlike the Bell’s menu which creates new promos and
Gives rise to another day of life I need to taste
Before I reach the happy death
That the good padres at the mission swear lies at all trails’ ends
And is their God’s reason for my passage through the Packardless sagebrush.
Tyson West, born in Boston, MA a few months before the police action in Korea, has degrees from the Universities of Virginia and California and New York University. Publishing speculative and literary fiction and poetry distilled from his mystical relationship with noxious weeds and magpies in Eastern Washington, he has no plans to quit his day job in real estate. His poetry collection “Home-Canned Forbidden Fruit” is available from Gribble Press. A lover of basic food he is excited to participate in this great literary enterprise.