My friend Dave Snodgrass has graciously consented to have me publish his poem about the Golden Plowman.
Dave was a huge presence in the Cleveland performance poetry scene when I first became involved with it back in the very late '90s. For his own reasons, he has removed himself from it, much to the community's impoverishment.
I don't think Dave ever made much effort to publish his poems, seeing them as more oral/aural and performance events. But he is/was a wonderful writer.
Hope you enjoy this.
Friday, August 31, 2012
by Dave Snodgrass
There ain't no life, 'cept the one life you get;
That's what you think about when you sit way up high and it sure ain't July
It resembles December, when the gods have a temper
and your prayers are as empty as your pockets.
Let me be more specific:
The closest approximation to a drunken elephant ballerina on roller skates
in this man's workin' world
is a fully-loaded flatbed on a highway incline
at the point at which H2O becomes H2OOOOOOOOOOOO shit!
Let me tell you from experience:
With ten tons of tool-steel in a top-heavy truck, it's terrifyingly tough,
to tip-toe through the two-lanes with tenderness and tenacity, it tends
to make a man count his sins …
just in case.
For further illustration, an episode:
Halfway home to work I was,
on a December evening when it seemed that Apollo's chariot blew a spoke;
and I'm steering between the flakes...
White above, white to each side,
fightin' twenty thousand pounds of feisty, frisky ferrite,
strapped to the back of a six-wheel toboggan,
momentum my master, inertia my icon,
and Slippery Rock ain't my college, but I'm takin' a schoolin' nonetheless...
I'm like a rat ridin' a rhino
over streets that would skid a spike-foot snowmobile like soap in a shower-stall,
And, just as I'm about to lose it entirely,
go ass-under-tailpipe into an unscheduled and unavoidable road-side rest stop,
In the rearview mirror, a flashing light,
a keel of steel, a wake of white, and Salvation,
like I'd ordered it from a good-luck menu …
The Golden Plowman, and his Yellow-Queen Limousine,
comin' to chop a foot off the top, and give the rest a hefty dose
of the salt of the earth,
I drop down two gears, tip my hat as he passes,
and slide in ten Toyota-lengths back for respect;
Respect, because he (or she, who can say) is my king, my savior, and my best
and I will follow him everywhere.
I will buy every coffee, fix every tire,
suck-siphon every spare drop of diesel from these tanks, because without him,
it'd just be me, and my air brakes,
Those Westinghouse wonders that only work three ways:
Every which way,
And no way at all;
No more jokes about ODOT being the Ohio Department of Taking our Time,
No more cussin' the extra lane-closures,
I'll buy him a brand-new shovel to lean on nine months out the year if he wants,
I'll leave a box of fresh donuts on every orange barrel
from Willoughby to Westlake, and Maumee to Marietta,
for he gives me the road, to have and to hold,
'til dock do I park.
No, there ain't no life, 'cept the one life you got,
and the Golden Plowman helps you keep it
when no one can even get out their own front door
to the drivers of ODOT, and their Yellow-Queen Limousines.
May the roads rise well to meet you,
until the plows come home.