Barstow, CA - Memory in Poem



Barstow, CA

 Just north of the Mojave in 1975,

I crossed the California border on route 15

In a Continental Trailways bus.

It was the summer I learned to play guitar.


The driver tipped off the toll booth attendant

That we had a drunk in the back.

Nearly to Barstow, the bus pulled over to flashing lights.

Someone in a uniform took my grandma’s oranges

And the guy in the back.


They took the oranges, because of fruit flies.

They took the man because his undercover FBI agent story

Was all swagger and booze, but no badge.


The forced air,

Cold, dry, and flavorless

Mixed in my head with the fish stick nausea

I’d carried from Williamsport, Pennsylvania,


It spun a psychedelic yarn

Of desert buttes and orange earth

across the plexiglass window.

Like those movies without a soundtrack.



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