• The Pneumatic Steampunk Doorway – Yellow Days


    At a spot on the eastern edge of the scorched Mojave Desert, where the Colorado River converges on the Three State Lines, lies an area known as Cal-Nev-Ari. There, it is said once lived a terrible monster—a behemoth coal-fired steam power plant. Officially designated the Southern Mojave Generating Station by the engineers who created the steel and molybdenum beast, it was called SMOGS by everyone else. As if the infernal climate of heat and dust was not enough to make life miserable for those who lived under its shadow, at inexplicable times during the day, the giant erector set belched a cloud of noxious gas from its deceptively cheerful, candy-striped smokestack. This cloud of sulfurous ash hovered in the upper layers above the sleeping town of Cow Rock, a small resort just across the river from the gambling halls and casinos of Layton. The steam and vapor rising from the cooling towers, along with the yellow ash from its exhaust, gave a fearful impression. To the untrained eye, it was part living creature, part fire-breathing contraption—snorting death and carnage from its every orifice into the pristine skies of the bustling desert community.

    Ned Bean was a tool room attendant at SMOGS. Immersed in the inner sights and sounds of the steam plant at night, despite frequent fits of yawn and torpor, the unassuming clerk tried his best to keep alert. Motivated by his muse, the never-ending night, Ned often experienced moments of lucid wakeful dreaming. These visions, coupled with the active imagination of a man driven by a surreal sense of reality, are preserved in a log he kept as part of his work duties. The letters which you are about to read, along with the accompanying Pneumatic Steampunk Doorway are the result of the experiment in mental purgatory that was the life of the steam plant clerk.

     

     


     

    Yellow Days

     

    “I remember when the sunlight had a special kind of brightness…
    yellow days, yellow days”

    Alvaro Carillo and Alan Bernstein
    ©1965 1966 Ed B Marks Music Co

     


     

    the steam plant
    nestles on the banks
    of the Colorado River

    perched
    on an alluvial slope
    where the valley rises
    to meet the mountains to the west
    (another range flanks it to the east)

    in a rocky
    desert terrain
    dotted with scrub greasewood
    the electric power generator
    stands out-of-place
    with the idyllic scenario
    of the small desert resort town
    that lies just across the river

    it seems contrary
    that in a landscape so picturesque
    surrounded by rugged hills that slope
    down into a lake of dazzling cobalt
    topped by a sky so perennially blue
    the clouds become cameo
    —lies this ubiquitous
    steaming
    smog-heaving
    mechanical skyscraper

    a labyrinth of girders and platforms
    a giant gray steel erector set
    cradled in the bosom
    of desert ecoloia

    a spewing volcano
    —it shrouds the basin
    in its jaundiced cloud


    “Yellow Days” originally published on Apr 19, 2015 

  • On the Road to Satori – Alice Texas

    the hitchhiker by christiano bill

    the hitchhiker by christiano bill


    Each one of these stories is like a small window—a motion picture into observations made during a period of travel during the early 1970’s. I hitchhiked the roads of America and spent the years that followed in reflection. These poems are what grew from that soil.

    They are to be enjoyed, read as rhythmic rolling narrative. They need no explanation except that, with a few exceptions, they tell a story that follows—one title to the next.

    Pablo Cuzco

     

    Alice Texas

    in the wee hours
    of a pitch black Texas night
    in Alice bound for Nuevo Laredo

    the road deserted
    not even a gun-rack pistol-packing
    Texas Truck in sight

    no drivers dusted
    from too many hours
    entertaining the yellow line
    looking for a rider to take the wheel

    the rattlesnakes chattered
    the coyotes yip-yip-yip-aye-ayed
    into the pitch-black prelude
    to the dawn

    a thousand miles from nowhere
    with nowhere left to go
    a lost and lonesome
    highway vagabond

    the rumble down ten-wheeler
    that eventually picked me up
    was headed for Freer

    blaring rhythm and blues
    on the AM band cracking
    and squawking like a CB radio

    left little room for conversation
    yelling over the noise
    grinding gears and rattling truck parts

    “Leroy Simmons—glad to meet you
    Headin’ far?” Nuevo Laredo
    “I can take you part of the way”

    Dawn…
    the Sonoran Desert
    a desolate stretch of highway
    Mexico—twenty-five miles to the south


    Originally published on November 12, 2014

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