December 14, 2017

A waning crescent moon
and morning star shine bright
just before the first light
of sunrise
appears from behind
a mountain’s silhouette
to rekindle life’s display
of this world’s complex beauty.

The lifeless body of a pronghorn
blends with brown-grey grass
ensconced by illuminated billboards.
Mechanical “grasshoppers”
suck up dinosaur bones
amid long-neglected barns.

A truck
branded “Team Petroleum”
is only one
among the mile-upon-mile
of running engines
all stopped in the fastlane
below giant-like frames
of powerlines
that seem to be
tilting at windmills
in their march past
refinery smokestacks
toward distant mountain passes.

The season’s leafless trees,
brimming with birds’ nests,
sit skeletal among the haybails.
Amid the barren boulders
and snow-capped peaks
that rest atop this windswept plain,
tattered flags and tools of destruction loom,
signalling “development” yet to come.

But look!
Soaring messengers
glide on an updraft
as the long light of afternoon
fills a great basin
with hope.

Just beyond the ticky-tacky
and the bulldozers
that ring the edges
of these older towns,
out there
are small roadside cemeteries
and intermittent evergreens
planted with prayers
by pioneers.

Where reservoirs will spill over into rivers
groves of deciduous trees
cling to veins of water.
A few hearty blades of grass
and fields of crops
wait patiently for Spring.
Iron-rich “red rock” gardens
sparkle with quartz
where snow might
otherwise be.

While herds of cattle and bison
idly exude “the smell of money,”
a fellow passenger talks
of investments, profits, and takeovers.
I just laugh
about the migrating geese
taking shelter
underneath the manger
of a giant nativity scene.

Airborne frost
dances across the tundra
with coaltrains and corvids.
Snow fences and tumbleweeds merge
between grey-green sagebrush
and flat-topped bluffs.
Wheelruts roll over a hill
toward the horizon,
and satellite dishes
crane their necks
like sunflowers
searching for a signal
where the static billboards grow.

Underneath horizontal windsocks
semi-trailers lie “napping.”
A playground
in the long shadows of warheads;
now, I am almost home.
Distant stormclouds sweep past
while healthy herds of pronghorn
lounge alongside decorative snowmen
on the leeward side
of the soldiers’ quarters.