the museum of americana

a literary review

Someplace Called The War (Middletown, CA) and Still Life with Steam Tractor and Quarter Horses — Poetry by Tim Hunt

Someplace called The War (Middletown, CA) 

 

In the shade of the black walnut tree,

the boy’s great grandfather sits in a wheelchair,

thin and frail.

The boy brings him the fiddle.

 

He stubs out his hand-rolled cigarette,

opens the case and lays the fiddle along his arm,

then plays

“Froggie went a courtin’ and he did ride”

 

The boy, sitting cross-legged in the reddish dirt,

watches the bow slide and pause,

then ride the strings

as the old man sings the words

the boy’s too young to know are silly,

and sly.

 

This is, let’s say, 1945,

and the boy’s father is away at someplace called The War,

and here, the men are mostly old men

and the summer days seem a kind of pause,

 

even as the women in the house

do the things the women do,

and little boys carry fiddle cases out into the yard,

 

then sit cross-legged in the dirt

as Froggie rides his horse,

sword and pistol at his side.

 

~~~

 

Still Life with Steam Tractor and Quarter Horses 

 

The past is always timeless.

As if the past is a place,

and each time you go there

things will be the same:

 

 

the steam tractor left to rust in the field,

the front wheel angled slightly to the left

as if turning to plow another row of wheat,

a few bushels. Not enough to sell

but bread on the table with the summer’s canning.

 

 

The field is empty now,

or rather set out with poles and barrels

for someone’s girls to gallop the two quarter horses

each day after school,

 

 

dreaming of being rodeo stars:

the blue ribbons and trophy cups

that would mean they’re special—

would mean they are.

 

~~~

Tim_HuntTim Hunt’s collections include Voice to Voice in the Dark(Broadstone Books) and Ticket Stubs & Liner Notes (winner of the 2018 Main Street Rag Poetry Book Award).  Originally from the hill country of northern California he lives in Normal, Illinois, which is not hill country.

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