The Milltown Union Bar
by Richard Hugo (1973)
You could love here, not the lovely goat
in plexiglass nor the elk shot
in the middle of a joke, but honest drunks,
crossed swords above the bar, three men hung
in the bad painting, others riding off
on the phony green horizon. The owner,
fresh from orphan wars, loves too
but bad as you. He keeps improving things
but can’t cut the bodies down.
You need never leave. Money or a story
brings you booze. The elk is grinning
and the goat says go so tenderly
you hear him through the glass. If you weep
deer heads weep. Sing and the orphanage
announces plans for your release. A train
goes by and ditches jump. You were nothing
going in and now you kiss your hand.
When mills shut down, when the worst drunk
says finally I’m stone, three men still hang
painted badly from a leafless tree, you
one of them, brains tied behind you back,
swinging for your sin. Or you swing
with goats and elk. Doors of orphanages
finally swing out and here you open in.
video from Kicking the Loose Gravel Home: Richard Hugo by Annick Smith (1976)
"John Muir wrote about glaciers, trees, plants in unparalleled, romantic prose, but expressed contempt for people equating them to rats in one essay. In early encounters with Native Americans he described them as “lazy” and “superstitious”. Later, after living with Native Americans, he praised their low impact on the wilderness when compared to European-Americans."
"“The truest art I would strive for in any work would be to give the page the same qualities as earth: weather would land on it harshly; light would elucidate the most difficult truths; wind would sweep away obtuse padding.” —Gretel Ehrlich"
Sea foam, Asbury Park, NJ.
Cindy’s shadow. Badlands. 10/20/2012.
More about this ginkgo leaf here.
Ceramic slip cast chess set by Tyler MacNeal.