Dreamscape

Vegas/Victoria

I’ve got a memory like a box of puzzle pieces.

A box picked up in a secondhand store.

There are pieces missing.

Important ones.

Some of the pieces look like they’re from a different puzzle altogether.

Pieces of Chicago Skyline in a box of Banff National Park.

Some look like they’ve been taken to with a pair of scissors.

Anything to make them fit.

I go across the highway to the Airways Court, then nothing.

I go passed the Arctic Circle Drive-In and I’m at J.D.’s house.

He is working on his hotrod in space.

Whose father is laying on the couch, balancing a beer on his belly, puffing a cigar and telling us:”Don’t you boys ever start drinking or smoking, it’s a filthy habit”?

Over there is the Huntridge, where I took my mother to see 101 Dalmatians.

She embarrassed me by screaming:”Look Out!”

She was afraid the cartoon lorry was going to hit the cartoon pup.

There is this weird scene of a college student in the Trafalgar Restaurant in St. George.

He is eating mashed potatoes and gravy with his hands.

Was the rat-catcher’s name, Roy?

The kid at the Liberty Hotel who went into my room with gloves, a gunnysack and a flashlight.

It all seems to live in a dreamscape of wooden sidewalks and teetering buildings.

It looks like Popeye’s Sweetheaven or Japan’s Kamakura.

It’s a bookstore up an alley I can’t  find.

It’s a kid’s Christmas town.

It comes to me when I’m asleep.

I trip over it when I’m awake.

It is just a box of puzzle pieces.

Puzzle pieces that only exists in the desert of my mind.

Sweetheaven

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Chances Are

School Yard

To myself, I’ve never really felt a child of Vegas.

I never learned to gamble.

If my mother offered to put a nickel in a slot machine for me, I would ask for the nickel.

A nickel bought a Mars bar in those days.

I never learned to take chances.

So I never really became skillful, not even at my toys.

I could only walk- the- dog with my yo-yo.

I never got the hang of the hula-hoop.

I lost my bank bag of aggies to the other boys on the school yard.

I hated the card games my mother tried to teach me.

I hated checkers and dominoes .

I would rather build them into forts, than live with the shame of losing.

I hated all sports.

I didn’t want to be the last kid picked, even for dodgeball.

To this day, I won’t buy a lotto ticket or bet on a game.

My only game is solitaire.

I am a careful fellow.

Self Portrait

My Vegas

Vegas

Over the years, I’ve had friends who visit Vegas.

They ask me if I’ve ever been back.

I say no.

They tell me of Circus Soleil and Celine Dion.

I tell them of showgirls in high heels and pasties.

I tell them of shiny haired crooners in shark skin suits.

They show me a map and I’m lost.

It takes me forever to find my Vegas in the middle of that maze.

The rest, I tell them, was all sand and sagebrush.

They blew up my Vegas.

They blew up the Dunes.

They blew up the Castaways.

They blew up the Tropicana.

They even blew up my old high school.

There is no icehouse behind the elementary school.

There is no elementary school.

There is no E&T Drugstore.

No more desert rats.

No more cowboys shooting their pistoles into the air downtown.

Atomic City has lived up t its name.

Kaboom!

No more Tiki Lounge

Independence Day

Union Station

On July 3, 1969, I boarded a train out of Union station.

I had wanted to do that since I was a little boy.

The train took me north.

On July 4th, I celebrated my American Independence by crossing the border into Canada.

Thanks to the sympathy of a train conductor, I received no two-week notice to report to authorities.

For years I thought my story of joining my father on a hunting trip had fooled him.

I thought the white shirt and tie had fooled him.

I thought putting my duffel bag at the back of the train car had been real James Bond.

When everyone else on  that car had to show how much money they had with them except me, I figured I’d pulled a fast one.

Even when I was told that no draft dodger ever got across the border by train, the penny never dropped.

It’s only now that I see that slight smile as I bather on about the great north woods.

I made it.

I hadn’t taken my buddy’s offer to drive into the desert.

There was no downing a bottle of Southern Comfort.

No placing my trigger finger over the barrel of his rifle.

I had all my appendages.

I was home.

But I didn’t know I would never see Vegas again.

Fourth Of July

The Return Trip

Across The Universe

The second time I went for an induction physical, I knew something was up.

Everyone on the bus was a 1-Y classification.

When we returned, we were all 1-A.

One guy retained his 1-Y because he was illiterate.

Unlike the first time, it wasn’t an all day affair.

As soon as we arrived , we were told to stand in a line.

If we didn’t fall over, we were in.

I wasnt’ home more than two days when I received my notice to appear in San Diego in one week’s time.

I liquidated my Valley Bank Of Nevada account.

Sold what stuff I could.

I packed everything else into three trunks.

I told Ron I would send for them.

I bought an army duffel for a distinctly un-army trip.

Writer Of The Draft Dodger Rag

The Jetson Generation

The Jetsons

When I was twenty-one, I saw a spaceman leave his paw prints on the moon.

I had been getting up early for ten years to watch the astronauts.

I sat with my mother around a mug of postum before leaving for school.

I sat by myself when I was older.

It wasn’t much of a show.

A metal pencil poking a hole in the sky.

There was lots of waiting and countdown and finally lift-off.

It was nothing like Buck Rogers or Flash Gordon.

No cool clothes.

No battles with the Catwomen of Venus.

In science class there were pictures of air-custoned cars.

We would be going to drive-in movies on Mars by 2001.

We would be part of the Jetson Generation.

It never happened.

All we inherited was a ring of space junk.

All we got was some refuse that sometimes would fall on Kansas.

Like Superman.

Flash Gordon And Ming The Merciless

Young Olive Oyl

Ah, Miss Oyl

She was long, dark and thin.

She looked a little  a young Olive Oyl.

She worked in a bookstore in the mall.

I looked for any excuse to drop in.

I bought a lot of books.

I’d linger, waiting for the other customers to leave.

We talked books, movies and deep thoughts.

It took weeks for me to ask her out.

I couldn’t say I’ll pick you up.

I didn’t drive.

I told her it would be a bus ride.

We took it from downtown to the strip.

We stopped along the way and picked up a bucket of chicken at the Colonel’s.

We ate chicken with greasy fingers at the back of the bus.

We got out at one of the hotels for drinks.

The next time I was in the bookstore, she gave me a poster.

It was a Japanese drawing of a young woman.

She was long and thin.

A kind of young Olive Oyl.

Down Town