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 

Advertisements
%d bloggers like this: