Down around Port Arthur the tumbleweed, that mobile diaspore,
flings its seeds in a race with time, dying in a pool of rain or oil.
And what they have is a lot of sky and oil tanks coddling crude
and girls in much more underwear than they wear way up North.
Mining land is deeply scarred and raw, the gravel pits alien,
like lunar landscapes or the bank where Charon plies his trade.
The young ones necking in their cars, the ugly bars, showed you
the rocking road away from that stripped coastal town.
South of Hugo, Colorado on Highway 287, the land is wiped clean, the prairie grasses and flowers of spring cut to the root by cattle, their shining white teeth. Dung, dark stains on the land running the fencelines, remnants of progress, the way we produce meat in this country. It cannot have rained in many days. These hard-pan flats, the leading edge of the Great Plains east off the Rockies, turn a dust devil against the horizon to the south.
The white horse at the railing stood alone, saddled and loose with no rider on his back. I searched for a person in charge, someone holding the reins and hidden from view behind the horse, but the gelding in the outdoor riding arena faced the morning clouds by himself.