Friday, February 1, 2013

Halvard Johnson


Nothing much harder than
falling off a horse.
By grace of whatever-- 
no broken neck.

Ranging west,
driving across salt flats after dark.
High peaks--behind and to the north--
shrouded in darkness and tattered cloud.

Headlights pop up on the horizon,
steadily bear down upon you for half an hour,
maybe more--whoosh by--red taillights
jiggle in the mirror, half an hour more.

Nothing fades. It stretches and breaks.
The trick is to survive the snap-back.    


Marching tunes fit in as never before, good blondes working
the sousaphones. Happiness was never quite what we were after.
Meat and potatoes, the best we could hope for. Armaments
still our major industry, selling guns to those who didn’t even
have clothing.

Spring floods, like frozen egg whites, just there in time for
emergencies. Corrals with no horses in them. Trans-Siberian
railway trains ground to a standstill, carefully watched by some
lad called Hatchet.

Finally, it remains impossible. The night songs of wanderers
rouse us from sleep.

                                                                       Deye mon ge mon. 
                                                                              Creole proverb
Beyond the mountains
there are more mountains.
The road I thought I'd seen the end of
has turned another corner, vanished beyond
an outcropping of rock.

In the hot sun at noon
I meet a traveler going the other way.
He too is thirsty and without water.
He too has been walking all day.

We greet each other like old friends.
We abandon the highway. The mountains embrace us.

FWIW, it's just been several years since Halvard Johnson and his wife Lynda Schor have discovered (for her) and rediscovered (for him) Mexico, where they've been spending more and more of their time in San Miguel de Allende in the state of Guanajuato. San Miguel (SMA) lies on mountain slopes in the central highlands of Mexico, at an altitude of about 6,300 feet—about one foot for every gringo in a town of 80,000, most of them complaining about how many gringos there are in town nowadays (compared, say, to the late 40s, when there were maybe five or six, most of them complaining about how many gringos there were in town). Johnson's usual snide response to such complaints is "If you want to see a lot of gringos, try living in New York."

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