All over this northern
city, a cold and blowing
season, long strides of
northern breezes coming down
from Canada. What hunger
decides to make its heart
here? What low growl
becomes a song?
Elk like pinpricks across
the valley, beside the river,
tiny eyes watching traffic.
The thin road leads away,
walks the weather
along the bank, stops
once the dam starts.
Cutthroat, rainbow, what
slimy lives hide below
the ice, never freezing.
I want to walk here forever,
drop down at the pull-off
and watch the high
peaks writhe. Several ducks
float and float. I want
their webbing, their wings.
Coyote in the horse barn.
Horses in the hay field.
I am a rolling boulder.
A sinking stone.
The 3020 Bar, Summer
Forget the prairie heat and come inside.
The beer—served in giant, ice-glazed glasses
is cheap, and the bartender,
a sweet woman, dolled up with wild hair,
she loves to tell you about her kids.
She even forgives you sometimes
when you don’t have cash. Inside is a
kind of dark that daylight could never dream of,
so cool and cavernous, pockmarked
with an old TV’s fuzzy baseball game.
The few men cracking cue balls in the corner,
they say they’ll play you for a drink.
Do, or don’t. It doesn’t much matter here.
The beer is so rich and quenching,
summer’s hungry hands won’t find you.
The bartender, that bighearted woman,
she tells you about a bad accident on 19th,
just this morning. I don’t know where you’re headed,
she says, but I’d avoid that mess. That kind of sadness
stays around. Nothing but bad luck driving there.
She says, you best take the long way home.
So, stepping back out into the sun, you do.
About the Author: Travis earned his bachelor’s degree in English from Southeastern Oklahoma State University in 2010. After college he spent several years working in various national parks out west. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in Connecticut River Review, Quarterly West, Bird's Thumb, The Pinch, Raleigh Review, and The Cossack Review. He is currently in Bozeman, Montana.