Basho's West Coast Journey
Michael Karl (Ritchie)

Shawnee Mall

Squat brick fort: native
nothing inside. A fourteen-
year-old Hansen dude,

hacking on his cell
phone, scopes out the video
Ninja cowboy games.

The Next 500 Miles

Little tombstones turn
out to be bleached drums of scruff.
Suddenly a cross

silo-high and white
against the blue Texas sky --
no church nearby -- marks

some memorial --
a ramp of smaller crosses
ready to take off.

Happy Tracks Horse Motel

This boggles the mind:
do horses call ahead for
reservations, or

demand free cable
and continental breakfasts,
or does some yahoo

sit outside, swatting
flies, shoveling horse manure,
and rake in the bucks?

Leaving the Georgia O'Keefe Museum

There is nowhere to
look without seeing her work.
Land shapes character.

Cloud herds and their silk
hems catch against the mountains,
shredding to drizzle.

The buttes, brute, abut
adobe dwellings whose dark
doors comfort with shade.

Return Deposit

Outside Needles, a
mirage--green pastures turn blue
the desert mountains.

And in the middle
of a field, the burning barn
releases toxic fumes.

Teepee motels hock
Navajo moccasins and
petrified monsoons.

What's a desert good
for, other than hiding our
military scalps?

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