A three part piece I wrote for Kazim Ali’s workshop last week…
It rained just a few short hours ago, but the prairie grass beneath your bare feet is crisply parched. There’s no desire to keep a finely manicured lawn as your small brick house sits in the middle of acres of wild grasses, flowers and thistled weeds. This land spreads west, dipping down into a small ravine and rising up unexpectedly into the foothills. The Rocky Mountains start here.
The horse pens round out the southern edge of the property. The pungent musty smell of their damp manure feels good against your nostrils. The rust colored mare shifts and dances in the stall, stamping out an S.O.S. on the moist ground, tossing her head up and down.
You stand with your hand balanced over your eyes, a makeshift ridge blocking the sun. Para sailors dancing overhead. They sprinted from the adjacent mountains edge, finding freedom simply dangling from a few cords and cloth. Your vision drifts in circles as you watch this navigator glide on warm winds. You watch as the sail spins, lifts, drifts and dives on invisible roller coaster rails. You wait to see where he will land his crazy craft and pray it isn’t the rocky ledge just below the horse stalls. Instead, the chute guides the harnessed rider into the pasture. No Trespassing signs cause them to shift quickly, gathering ropes and cloth beneath arms and then scurrying away in the hopes of respectfully interrupting my day.
of petrified bones resting in open graves.
guarded by needled bush barbed wire fence line.
of colorful canopies suspended from woven threads.
littering the skyline with motion rainbows arches
of kayakers dipping oars in churning waves
dipping beneath the water meltdown silent rush
of rubber treads lacing trails
designing new lines voiding imprinting
of travelers wasting change
pilgrimage to chiming slots trinket shops photo ops
“You who live your lives in cities or among peaceful ways cannot always tell whether your friends are the kind who would go through fire for you. But on the Plains one’s friends have an opportunity to prove their mettle. “
“But the West of the old times, with its strong characters, its stern battles and its tremendous stretches of loneliness, can never be blotted from my mind.”
“It was my effort, in depicting the West, to depict it as it was.”
“It was because of my great interest in the West, and my belief that its development would be assisted by the interest I could awaken in others, that I decided to bring the West to the East through the medium of the Wild West Show.”
William Frederick Cody