american outback


What would have been like
to grow up in a place with no roads
born into a family of nomads
traveling by instinct or raw curiosity
instead the Jeffersonian grid of roads?

You see a car coming from miles away
on the high plains desert,
dirt roads bordering fields,
worn edge connectors of
farm to market, house to field
aligned with the cardinal directions.

You can tell who’s lived on a dirt road
by the way they drive
a stranger’s presence gets noticed
even the dogs seem angered by it
Walking dirt roads
you learn to watch
the breeze for wind direction
and keep an eye on the ground
odd things might be lying in the dirt

This one is on private land
not part of the grid
it might seem like
just another shitty dirt road
laid out by line of sight
straight as thin steel bar stock
hammered to fit the rolling land
the line straying only to bypass bedrock
and the occasional mesquite tree
too big to run over

look hard enough and you realize
this road’s heavily used
not just by people
it’s is a thoroughfare
for anything on the move
looking for easy passage
through thorns and hidden danger
the sparse powdery soil
here javelina, coyote and pronghorn
mark their passage
with their droppings and
distinctly shaped footprints

there’s solitude and quiet to be had here