White Mules and a Column of Smoke

vinyl

White Mules and a Column of Smoke

I am thinking of a place I’ve never seen or visited,
much like Heaven or Jot ‘Em Down, Texas, but with better
beverages and the advantage of hindsight and seasoning,
a glance back or to the peripheral, with a side of memory
and sliced, pickled jalapeños topping a pile of imagination.

And how do we so clearly remember what never occurred?
That book I read in 1970 was first published three years
later. A drowned childhood acquaintance ordered a beer
and sat next to me at a party in college. The open fields
I recall from the garden walls in France, where homes stood.

If only we carried with us slide shows or grooved vinyl
to trace back our lives – photos and recordings of those daily
remembrances – detailed notes indexed on cards, or data
embedded in our palms and accessed by eye twitches.
Would such evidence improve our lives?

Which filters shutter moments and thoughts, twist them
into balloon animals we no longer recognize? False
accusations and convictions aside, can we trust what we
know to be true? That oak stands where it has for four
decades. I bleed when cut. The sky still leers above us.

“White Mules and a Column of Smoke” was drafted during the August 2016 Tupelo Press 30/30 challenge. I am grateful to Natalie Butler, who sponsored the poem and whose photo inspired me.

25 thoughts on “White Mules and a Column of Smoke

  1. Bob this is an entire story unto itself:”A drowned childhood acquaintance ordered a beer
and sat next to me at a party in college.” The layers in here are groovy. 😉

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I love the dreamy sense of unreality about this, which of course calls into question the whole notion of reality. I initially read “Would such evidence improve our lives?” as “Would such evidence prove our lives?” Both worthy questions.

    Liked by 2 people

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