It stop me in my tracks.
The inflection carried the thrust of a knife blade
“What-cha doing here.
You belong back on the interstate.”
Two figures moved around the shell
of a 70’s muscle car – country music
crackling over their transistor radio.
My eyes sunk into that darkened garage
full of grease and gasoline smells.
I watched as one slow-walked his way
towards a rifle relaxing on a workbench.
“I’m looking for a diner.”
Thinking inwardly –
it was a good thing I was white,
or things might get dicey.
I pull a ten from my shirt pocket
as if green would legitimize my presence.
“We don’t serve your kind – you best move-on”
Each word delivered with the effect
of a chambered bullet.
“Can I at least get a cold soda from your machine.”
“Make it quick.”
Each word pronounced like a fist to the mouth –
A kick in the gut – a death-sentence.
I took a long-cold-swallow – eyeing
the empty Montana street.
Strip away the telephone and electric lines,
the semi-modern cars – add a few horses
and hitching-rails and I ‘d be back in 1865.
I was in a place where nothing changed.
They liked their life uncomplicated.
I was that walking disease who would sprinkle
wander-lust into the eyes of their women-folk.
‘You done. Now git.”
I tossed my bottle into an old barrel
overflowing with spent bottles – I smiled.
Thanked them for their hospitality.
I walked away – slowly,
secure with the weight of my twin knives.
Inwardly thanking my ancestors
that they had never settled
in a town where dreams are boxed early
and then shelved in a cellar
next to the rhubarb preserves
that no one ever wants to eat.
Duane Kirby Jensen is a painter and a poet. His work published in six chapbooks, and a variety of other publications . Since 1990 he has read and continues to read at numerous venues throughout the northwest.
During the 1990’s he published Everett’s Independent Voice (an arts and entertainment magazine) and The Drifter: A Poetry Journal. He also coordinated the Mill Town Poets open-mic. Since September 2013, he has been the host of Everett Poetry Nite.
He received the 2013 Mayor’s Arts Award for Artistic Excellence & Contribution to Everett’s Cultural Vitality.
Duane also has Two painting and two poems in Randomly Accessed Poetics Issue No. 4, Heart Splatters Into Significance.
Copyright © 2014 by Duane Kirby Jensen