Friday, December 04, 2015

So Late So Soon!

—Photos by Robert Lee Haycock

—Robert Lee Haycock, Antioch, CA

Debbie Fletcher was moving
From San Jose to Carlotta.
Wayne, Diana, Mark and I
Were invited along 
For a fond farewell.
I was smitten with Diana,
Diana with Wayne,
Wayne with me.
Mark was the only one
Who saw the situation
For what it was and
Spent the weekend
Chortling to himself.

Sunday we attended worship
At the Methodist church
In Arcata where the pastor
Preached a sermon against
The desecration of the flag.
It was July Fourth weekend.
Youngsters in the audience
Need to understand that
Back then wearing
The Stars and Stripes
Was considered tantamount
To burning them.
Both were being prosecuted.
Diana kept reaching over
During the sermon
Tugging up my pant leg
To expose my
Red, White and Blue socks.

That's when I gave her my heart.
I knew she wouldn't have any
Difficulty giving me
A hard time
When I needed it.


—Robert Lee Haycock

One afternoon, the last week on Fletcher's Ranch
Run the dump truck after the combines
Then across the field to the auger pit
Engage the power-take-off on the tractor
Dump the barley and screw it up into the silo
Sweep up and back to chase the harvesters

They work ahead I pause to roll
A cigarette one-handed (yes)
A quick smoke and before I can put my boot
On top of dropped butt
I am standing in a widening black circle
Linc and Fletch and Jinx come running

Jackets flailing, cursing, kicking dirt
You dumb ass city kid
Why the hell do you think we all dip snuff
You dumb ass city kid
You coulda burned up the rest of the harvest
You dumb ass city kid

Up at 5 next day for breakfast
Eggs, ham, bacon, sausage, steak,
Three kinds potatoes and two kinds of toast
Now to work says Linc try some of this
Just a pinch between gum and lip
And don't swallow dumb ass city kid

Start the tractor first chore of the day
Set the choke crank crank crank nothing
Check the choke crank crank crank still cold
Back the choke off crank crank crank blow chow
Don’t barf in the auger pit
Dumb ass city kid

Linc's heavy gloved hand
On my back and I finish retching
You ok let's get back to work partner

—Robert Lee Haycock

Mike and I had grown up in Santa Clara together
Those days he lived just off Summit Road
In the Santa Cruz Mountains

My family had moved to South San Jose
Edenvale was still surrounded
By prunes and apricots

We must have both been in the eighth grade
I was spending the weekend at his place
Felt like a thousand miles from home

He had a little dirt bike that we took down
To the fire road behind his house
“You want to ride it, Bobby?”

He showed me the throttle, the clutch, the brake
How to tap it into first gear with my toe
I kicked it into poppity-popping life

Gave it a little gas as I engaged the clutch
Damn me if that bike didn’t go scooting
Up the hill then down into the trees

I stood where I’d forgotten to pick up my feet
Not only my first but my last ride on a hog
And I’ve lived happily ever after

I can’t remember how the bike fared 

—Kevin Jones, Elk Grove

There was something in the air,
Told us maybe we
Should consider wearing
Something on our heads,
Ear covering, at least.
We didn’t, of course.
Mortality was
For others back then,
Hypothermia as well.

The attitude extended through
My late teens, even well
Into my college years,
When presumably,
You should have learned
To know better.

Froze an ear once, walking
To class across the ice-
Swept prairies of Western
Illinois University. (Hey,
You have to build
A college somewhere,
Why not a godforsaken
Strip mine field?)
Swelled to the size
And color of a young
Eggplant. Told the
TA at my Geography lab
I was going to the
Health Center, heard
Him retching on a map
As I left.  Figured
It was serious.

Most preferred death
To the Health Center,
And I soon understood
Why.  Receptionist kept
Her head in the paperwork,
Intoning, “Are you sure?
Are you sure?”

Well, no.  But then the doctor
Called me in.  “Ear’s frozen.”
“That’s why I’m here.”
“Can freeze an ear on a
Hayrack ride.  There was
One last night.  You on it?”
“No.  Was walking to class.”
“Not likely.  Hayrack ride,
Probably.  Wrestlers get
Ears like this.  You a
Wrestler?”  “Not anymore.
Anything I can do?”
“No.”  “Will it fall off?”
“Maybe.  Don’t do it again.”

Today's LittleNip:

How did it get so late so soon? It’s night before it’s afternoon. December is here before it’s June. My goodness how the time has flown. How did it get so late so soon?

—Dr. Seuss


—Medusa, thanking today's fine contributors, and reiterating the question: How did it get so late so soon? (Note that photos in this column can be enlarged with a single click.)