High Plains

My photo somewhere east of Amarillo

a yellowed parchment stretches
endless, seamless, vast — covering all
until it meets the soft blue-white batiste sky

that lies beyond it, trembling at its edge
distance without depth
arcing over, filling spaces

upon it chords of history written–
a kind of hieroglyphics, not of papyrus
less socialized, more tribal

a series of bumps and lines, geometries
that sing of falling stones, eroding mountains
of time and and endless passage

bison cows horses cowboys he(a)rd there
carved in cactus shapes, shimmering mirages
crusted for centuries; time-foot-hoof-pounded flat

sculpted fata morgana motifs of destiny
inscrutable from such distances
people of the land, one with it, crushed

to this quivering yellowness, this opus
of fullness and emptiness in horizontals
the air resonates and the pulse beats

percussive anthems against me
I am lifted on a singing thermal
and a great dusty symphony plays

© Gay Reiser Cannon 6.11.2012 * All Rights Reserved
Posted for OpenLinkNight @dVersePoets Pub
6/12/2012 where today’s landlady is the Hedgewitch herself!

47 thoughts on “High Plains

    • The plains still look like this but burgeoning populations keep moving in and changing parts of it again. And in others where farms and ranches have gone broke it’s reverted. Little towns are drying up. The way of the world, I guess.

  1. “a great dusty symphony plays” what a glorious tribute to the plains… not a favorite part of the country for me…but you breathe life into it with vivid historical images of cowboys, bison. I do like this alot!

    • I sat next to a Russian woman on a plane once who said the middle of America was the ugliest land on the planet. It’s all about perspective I guess. For us, the sky was an ocean.

  2. oh this is delicious gay…love the textures on your parchment…the music heiroglyphs…the history…nice pairing of fullness and emptiness as well…it s nice touch…

  3. I was born near Amarillo (Borger) and we moved away when I was young. Growing up, I was a Texan and proud of it, but in my mind the picture you use was what Texas was. It wasn’t until I was an adult and moved back that I discovered the many varied and beautiful landscaapes that make up my beloved state.
    This is an awesome poem, Gay! Absolutely awesome! (I’d say that if the picture was of Kansas wheat fields, too!) Wonderful writing!

    • Well of course I know Borger. We played football against them (and other sports too I suppose). We used to roll all over the panhandle while I was growing up. It was nothing to drive three hours to see someone, hang out, and get home late. I had a car at fifteen and gas was 13 cents a gallon. You might like to check out one of my early poems. This is a kind of companion piece to it, but it has been published a couple of times. It’s still a favorite of mine: http://beachanny.blogspot.com/2010/09/amarillo.html

  4. You capture it well, Gay. I think people aways think of the dramatic scenery of John Wayne movies when they envision the West–so much of it is this monochrome, this subtlity and vastness, and you mirror the way it both flattens and is impressed by those who make their home there. I don’t think I could, but it does have a certain moonscape, parchement-and-batiste peace to it. This is sparsely and perfectly written–one of my favorites of yours.

    • Thanks Hedge. It seems to take me longer to write any more. And recently I haven’t had time to tweek. I took a long time with this and I’m fairly pleased with it. Your kind words encourage me.

    • It’s a little like everywhere and altogether like no where else. It’s LARGE and not something you can take in at once. Texas and I suppose everywhere seeps into you a little at a time.

  5. A great capture…a series of bumps and lines, geometries
    that sing of falling stones and eroding
    mountains of time and passage…………….lovely lines throughout!

    • You have to sort of see/feel it to understand. Looking out the land has a certain small nubby sameness, flat in 360 degrees and the only thing that breaks it is the horizon where a grey shimmer breaks the land and sky.

    • At night when the land becomes a black background, all eyes turn upward. One feels as though one can touch the stars and is blanketed by the milky way. It is after all 3500 feet high. It’s a flattened mountain range.

  6. I was conceived in Amarillo and passed through on my 8,500 mile road trip across the US in Dec/Jan. I got out just before a blizzard and drove through the worst rain I’ve encountered to Tulsa. I agree with Joy this is one of my favorites of yours, incredible!

    • Walt Whitman said the only thing between Amarillo and the North Pole was a barbed wire fence. I grew up there and should have known better. On the way from Dallas to Colorado, I foolishly forgot the basic warning – always carry a coat when you travel, keep a flashlight in the car, and carry at least a jar of peanut butter and crackers IN CASE. I left Dallas and it was 88 degrees (late spring I think). I was headed for Colo. Springs as my son was there and needed to take college boards to certify for the scholarship he’d already accepted. I got to Clarendon and it began to snow. I drove through Amarillo and on to Dumas..by then the snow was over a foot deep and the roads were whiting out. I stopped at a truck stop (no coat, etc.) and they’d closed the roads behind me. I followed a tractor/trailer rig until it shut down in front of me. I nudged my car onward in
      no tracks, no idea where the road actually was, but “feeling” it and finally reached Springfield CO and saw the neon lights of a motel. The heater had stopped and I didn’t know the ice had packed in front of the headlamps. (VW Rabbit) I pulled in expecting to sleep on the floor but they had a room. I never felt so unsure of the next minute in my life.

  7. that lies beyond it, trembling at its edge
    distance without depth
    arcing over, filling spaces

    This is what I thought Texas is, vast plains without borders as far as the eye can see. Nice Write Gay!

  8. You put me there. I really like:

    bison cows horses cowboys heard there
    carved in cactus shapes, shimmering mirages
    crusted for centuries; time-foot-hoof-pounded flat

    • Thanks Laurie – it is cowboy country. I dated some of them. One was very special. He thought he was John Wayne. ..which made me giggle then and still does a little. He was nothing like John Wayne.

  9. an awesome write gay…percussive anthems against me
    I am lifted on a singing thermal
    and a great dusty symphony plays… you’re composing a song as well here…one that i can feel with my hands..

    • Funnily enough that may have been my first exposure to classical music. It wasn’t considered classical then. It enjoyed great popularity and was played alongside the likes of Rhapsody in Blue with “hit parade” songs of the day. I wonder how much it affected my view of the West?? Thanks Sam!

  10. My eyes and my senses where open to this well written write. I could almost see myself standing in that place and watching the horses.

  11. This really sings, Gay. I love the epic quality of it, while you retain the personal and individual within the macroscopic view. You’ve crafted a lovely landscape that resonates with history. Wonderful.

  12. Loved this piece! ~ reminds me if my family’s road trips when I was young~ lived in OK & traveled all the way down TX Houston! ‘land & sky’ ~ the breath of the day & how the sum filled the road! A wonderful lyrical song ~ thank you for sharing!

  13. Beautiful poem, and the last two lines–oh!–breathtaking. Haven’t been to Texas, but your poem makes me think of the Canadian prairies. Brilliant write, Gay. I like this one very much.

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