Moonlight on the Lake


Moonlight on the Lake

the dark blue shadows
of midnight dance
with the flicker
of moonlight
on the lake

fishermen’s boats loll
gently creaking in the crisp
sheer silence of the cool water

klieg-like spotlights
crisscross the water knifing
slices of pale amber
on the surface

the “plop” of a lure
cast out into the night
the slap and splash of carp
poking the table of air

the lull of music wafting
softly across the dam
to a fisherman

Yellow Days

At a spot in the middle of one of the most scorching deserts in America, where the Colorado River meets the Three State Lines, lies the area known as Cal-Nev-Ari. There—once lived a terrible monster—a behemoth coal-fired power plant. Officially designated the Southern Mojave Generating Station by the engineers who created the steel and molybdenum monstrosity, 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 there, at inexplicable times during the day the giant belched a great 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, Arizona, a small resort just across the river from the gambling halls and casinos of Layton, Nevada. 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 a fire-breathing contraption—part living creature—snorting death and carnage from its every orifice.

Ned Bean was a machinist’s tool room attendant at SMOGS. Immersed in the lulling sights and sounds of the steam plant at night, despite frequent fits of yawn and torpor, the unassuming clerk tried his best to keep ever 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, were preserved in a log 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
Alan Bernstein
©1965 1966 Ed B Marks Music Co


the steam plant
is nestled on the banks
of the Colorado River

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

in rocky
desert terrain
dotted with greasewood scrub
the electric generating station
seems out-of-place
in the idyllic scenario
of the small 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 ever-present
mechanical skyscraper

a labyrinth of girders and platforms
a giant gray steel Erector Set
cradled in the bosom
of desert ecoloia

the spewing volcano
shrouds the basin
in a jaundiced cloud

Related Post: The Pneumatic Steampunk Doorway

The Pneumatic Steampunk Doorway – The Edison Inferno

fire bellied bufo by drmaniacal

the Edison Inferno

several machinists
enter the tool-room
in search of the “lost panacea” (the cure-all
for the convulsions of an ailing steam plant)

some have found an intermittent remedy
while still others have thrown up their hands
agonized by the frustrations inherent
to yet another day at
the Edison inferno

…downwind from the plant the populace gags
as they rise from their overnight torpor
grinning back at their dreams
shuddering at their expectations
of yet one more day
under “the cloud”

peeking out from behind drawn drapes
they catch a glimpse of the behemoth
spewing hot ash and destruction
defying the very space that contains it
challenging even the logic that created it

the brainchild of economic woebegone
genius of failing energy resource
the Baby Huey of engineering

with its centipede-like army
of technicians

welding and wiring
patching up the lifelines that feed the beast
maintaining the flow of precious sludge
that nourishes
fires it

a formula
masterminded by mad chemists
in a downtown Los Angeles

brought by hundreds of miles
of steel pipeline from coal mines
in New Mexico

or is it Colorado? anyway
from someplace very far away
—into its hollow
iron guts

with a roar
a belch
and a sputter
life emerges from
the belly of the beast

hot glowing coal is ignited
seared and scorched sending
superheated water through
ribs and arteries of cold
rolled titanium steel

to where through the ferocious manipulation
of mechanical valves and injectors
it is channeled

into the waiting turbines

Related Post: Further! Adventures on the Mojave Trail

On the Road to Satori – Haight-Ashbury

circles by orzz

” Joaquín doesn’t live here anymore. . .

he died of the Vietnam War
—from drugs and alcohol.”

—it’s what I tell whoever asks
about my brother these days

I remember Joaquín
he’d fill my head with stories
about his time stationed at Treasure Island
on leave while in the US Marines
after his tour in the ‘Nam

the summer of ’67 San Francisco
the long-legged blonde hippies on Haight sitting
on the sidewalk with blue eyes staring
spaced out…sit down I
think I love you

Eric Burton
at the Fillmore—before
there was an East and a West
singing blindfolded stoned
smoking a cigarette
tempting the edge
of the stage
tuned in
turned on
and dropped out
from the British Invasion

the yellow corn-cob pipe
and the nickel bag of Vietnamese
smuggled on the plane. I closed my eyes to
Bob Dylan’s 115th Dream my thoughts a stream
of moving pictures eyes closed
in an instant opened
to a new sense
of time and

Boxcar Blues – The Last Ride

The dust cloud on the horizon veers toward town. It’s getting closer. I tell myself, It’s the Calvary come to rescue me locked up for a crime I didn’t commit. “Fat chance,” the little voice in my head replies.

        Every day, Mei Lia brought me something to help take the chill out of this county cooler. One day she carried a tray covered in a red and gold silk handkerchief. My lawyer also came that day.
        “The judge won’t grant an appeal.” Josh Feathers gave me the bad news. Tatay had even offered to get his attorney from Philadelphia to help, but neither he nor I could afford it. Mei Lia’s smile made up for all of it.
        In the tray was pancit, the same dish we’d had at our wedding.
        But wait a minute! As I served up a forkful I saw the unimaginable. The round end of a metal object stuck out from under the soft mound of noodles. She had covered a skeleton key inside the dish. I grabbed it and shoved it under the mattress. I looked in her soft, almond-shaped eyes, afraid to ask. She made no acknowledgment. She just smiled.
        After I finished my meal we kissed. It was long and tender. We said our goodbyes. She and I knew it was the last affection we would ever share. There was no turning back from this.

The Chinese apothecary shop on the corner of D Street and Second has a sign that gives a proverb for every day of the week. That night it read: Make the most of an unexpected opportunity.

        I made my way out of town the same way I’d come in. I hopped a boxcar on the first westbound freight train. Inside an oversize wooden crate of farm equipment, I peered through the slats as two cargo handlers checked the load. The train had just crossed the state line into Arizona.
        “Why do ya think they didn’t shut this door?” one worker asked the other.
The loader pulled a pack of cigarettes out of the pocket of his jeans and shrugged. “I dunno. Maybe they just forgot t’lock it? It opened by itself? I dunno.”
        As they moved boxes and crates, making sure everything was secure, they seemed to find a sense of satisfaction in their work. Thinking back, it may have been the contentment I felt as I clung to the canvas of the duffel bag Mei Lia had packed for me. After I unlocked the door to the cell, I had ducked out of the jail house while the dispatcher went for coffee. I found the bag stashed in the bushes in back of the county offices. That girl knew exactly where I’d run. She had an uncanny sense that way. I cried inside with a terrible pain in my heart. What was I going to do without her?

In my dreams, a young man manipulates levers and belt drives that operate an escalator made of molybdenum-steel, raising and lowering people cut in half at the torso, only to become whole again at the end of the ride.

A middle-aged woman at a bus station reminds me that there are still details to work out, pieces to put together. Don’t despair, she winks while pouring used oil around fence posts. To preserve them, she says.

        I woke up to the rhythmic rattle of the Southern Pacific against my back. I stood up, forcing open the door of the boxcar, and saw the landscape as it flew past.

At sunrise, the Arizona desert comes to life in a soft purple contrast of shadow and light. The camel colored mountains display a palette of gold and red, stretching the long shadows of tumbleweed across the land like fingers flirting with the new day. I followed as thousands of sun beaten sagebrush swayed in the morning breeze, waving that yellow ball toward the western sky.

        As I put a part of my life behind me, the thought crossed my mind—Nick Dade will make California, after all.

On the Road to Satori – State Trooper Blues

we see the troopers lights
and hear the blip of the siren
turn to each other with a “we’ve been
narced by the guy at the Bodega!” look on our faces

the trooper snoops around
looking mean in his Smokey Bear hat
black Gestapo boots and a forty-five pistol

his ’69 Plymouth Road Runner
hemi-head dual exhaust
going varoom! varoom! shaking
like a dragster disguised in cop lights
and a New Mexico State Trooper emblem
so that we’re quite impressed!
despite the circumstances

he let us go
must have figured we were just
a bunch of wide-eyed college kids
on their way to see America
why toss ‘em in the clink
and ruin their lives forever?
let ‘em find out for themselves
when they end up
on the street

“your brake light’s out,
thought I’d give ya a warning”!
we slide back on to the road

welcome to New Mexico

Words of Wisdom for Aspiring Artists

“Alan Watts was a British philosopher who spoke about Asian philosophies for a Western audience. He wrote over 25 books and was an excellent orator on topics such as the meaning of life, higher consciousness, the true nature of reality and the pursuit of happiness.”

“Advice? I don’t have advice. Stop aspiring and start writing. If you’re writing, you’re a writer. Write like you’re a goddamn death row inmate and the governor is out of the country and there’s no chance for a pardon. Write like you’re clinging to the edge of a cliff, white knuckles, on your last breath, and you’ve got just one last thing to say, like you’re a bird flying over us and you can see everything, and please, for God’s sake, tell us something that will save us from ourselves. Take a deep breath and tell us your deepest, darkest secret, so we can wipe our brow and know that we’re not alone. Write like you have a message from the king. Or don’t. Who knows, maybe you’re one of the lucky ones who doesn’t have to.” -Alan Watts

This is an excerpt from the article: 25 Alan Watts Quotes That Will Blow Your Mind Wide Open
By Universe Insider – May 7, 2017

%d bloggers like this: