Monday, September 20

I made it back to Lincoln yesterday afternoon with a fresh sunburn, a 5 day beard, and 26 pages of Moleskine notes. Most of the notes are even sketchier than my facial hair. Partially because I couldn't contribute anything to the music, I was determined to come away from the 2004 Walnut Valley Festival - four days of stage performances and jam-session saturated campgrounds - with something written. Here goes nothing.

winfield, pt. 1

wednesday morning, shawn calls
to say he got the winning
bid on that ambulance, and
if she runs alright we
won't have to worry about
taking two cars down to kansas

the ambulance is perfect
for this kind of roadtrip and
particular destination;
most of the scraped-off decals
are still visible and the
floodlights work if you know what
switches to hit, even though the
windshield wipers do not
there's a bed in back, and
places for oxygen bottles
it isn't hard to wonder how
many people died here, how
many lives ended or were
utterly transformed by
what happened in this little
space

we get gone from shawn's place
by five-twenty post meridiem.
i make a partial cargo
manifest: three guitars, two
straw hats, two tents, four sleeping
bags, one frisbee, two nickel
creek shirts, a pile of firewood,
one dao de jing, three rolls
paper towels, a box of
reynolds wrap.

the drive south is familiar
from as far back as i remember
anything, almost - rust tone
of milo, corn ready to
be cut changes as the land
shapes itself like kansas
into wheatfield and pasture
grass. salina and the
big elevator are like
they always were. we take
the crawford street exit to buy
unleaded gas and beer, move
on down interstate to wichita

i read the places we pass
like a map of my life's motions
and the moments rendered in memory
more images than stories

the whole of it i'd like to
sing or somehow show to other
eyes than mine - but so
simple and so common,
so much of themselves
are all these pieces
that i suspect we all carry
much the same weight.

wichita,
then winfield, where we stay
awake too late with guitars
and arguments, watching
lightning around the edges
of our sky

thursday i wake early enough
to snag scrambled eggs, a cup
of coffee and a shower
in dave's book-lined quonset

then, out to the festival
the cowley county fairgrounds
have become like part of some
other civilization
a little city of tents and
campers, pickup trucks, trailers
lean-tos, tarps and parachutes
strung from trees along with lights
and flags - old glory, the stars
and bars, don't tread on me

where dave's friends are camped,
we find room saved for
a tent, a campfire
and a steady stream of food
(chili, roasted potatoes,
pork loin, barbecued
beef, chicken soup,
biscuits and gravy:
hell for vegetarians)

there are also two tables
of the kind you find
stacked in church basements
covered in every size
and shape of candle
from votives and short fat
scented monstrosities in
jars to slender hand-dipped
tapers of pale blue or
green, some several hundred
in all

(later at the vendors' stalls
carolann buys a tie-dyed
bandana and knots it to
her leg, a ridiculous
splash of colors alien to
nature in southeast kansas;
i find molly a red and
yellow string; we are all
a little like some nesting
bird with a penchant for
colorful detritus)

this is altogether an unfinished story