Bio Note When you go into a stranger’s house and find your poem posted on the refrigerator, you’ve reached the ultimate anthology. I wrote “My Little Town” shortly after I moved to La Honda, California in 1979. Forty years later, the numbers have changed: we have one school, one church, one bar. The dogs are more gentrified, the water is cleaner. The townsfolk, cranky as ever. I’m still here.
My Little Town
In my little town dogs sleep on the street and act affronted when you drive on the bed. My little town allocates resources in proportion to priorities. We have one school two churches and three bars. The teenage boys in my little town gather by the pond after dark with big engines and little cans of beer. They steal the Stop sign, stone the streetlight, moon a passing car. But at least we know where they are. In my little town some girls keep horses in their back yards. Above the dogs and surly boys, they cruise on saddles astride a big beast, dropping opinions as they meet. There are more children than grownups in my little town, more dogs than children, more trees than dogs, more fleas than trees, more slugs . . . and more slugs . . . and more slugs . . . Standard equipment in my little town: a chainsaw a pickup a kerosene lamp. On the Fourth of July the whole little town has a big picnic. There is never a line at our little post office. The ducks on the pond in my little town waddle across the road each afternoon a milling, quackling crowd round the door of the yellow house where the lady gives them grain. When it rains, they swim on the road or sleep there, like dogs. We had a goose that attacked cars but somebody ate him. We had a black swan, lovely, mean, aloof, but somebody stole him. We have great blue herons, sometimes, if nobody shoots them; and coots, always. Beneath the surface are bluegill, Budweiser, and bass. Every summer weekend some flatlander driving through town misses the curve or tries to pass, and dies with his head through broken glass. From mountain streams the water in my little town tastes like algae and old pipes. On a cold morning the woodsmoke of stoves entwines the redwoods like fog in my little town. We hold village meetings where a hundred-odd cranks and dreamers grope for a grudging consensus. We cling to the side of our mountain building homes, making babies beneath trees of awesome height. We work too hard, play too rough, and sense daily something sweet about living in our little town.
First published in my chapbook Son of a Poet
©2020 Joe Cottonwood
©2020 Joe Cottonwood
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