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Old 03-07-2017, 10:51 AM   #1
AlwaysHungry
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Vignette Challenge: poems and discussion

#1.

We set out for Madagascar where
Jimmy Fowey said we'd make our fortunes.
He was well read up on such things
from a book his Grandpa gave him for Christmas.

The boat had once belonged to his Pa,
but Ma Fowey stopped him using it when
he rolled home smelling of cheap perfume
and booze, just one weekend too many.

We never did make it, or our fortunes,
and I can still recall the look of horror
on my Ma's face when we were dragged
unceremoniously home by the Coastguard.

Neither me nor Jimmy could sit for a week
and the Hen house had never been so clean.
Years later we lost Jimmy to a landmine, and me?
Some stroke of irony fetched me to the Coastguard's chair.
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Old 03-07-2017, 10:52 AM   #2
AlwaysHungry
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#2 The Poem Is a Dirty Sock

Frustrated, you crumple and toss it
into the hamper but then retrieve it.
Who knows? Maybe one or two

more lines is all it needs to be clean,
something neatly folded
you'd gladly put in your drawer

by the one you wrote and liked last year
with three maybe four in the back
you hardly ever wear.

You've laundered it so many times,
and look! There's another new hole.
Christ! You just spelled "sole" as your soul!

Embarrassed, you are reminded
it's time again to trim your nails,
and then in disgust you toss it
because it really does smell,

but when you finally retrieve it,
you burn it instead in your stove
to get the stink out of your head
that's all the way down to your toes

before you grab some loose leaf paper
to start all over again. Who knows?
perhaps even the beginning of
an emperor who has new clothes.
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Old 03-07-2017, 10:53 AM   #3
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#3

Soledad is a small woman,
but she's tough like El Árbol del Tule.
And if they let atomic volleys fly
I do believe that on the day that follows
we'll see her trudging doggedly
through fields of ash
bleating, bleating her bicycle horn,
propelling her ancient cart,
and with timbre borrowed
from now-extinct geese
crying "Tamales! Tamales!"
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Old 03-07-2017, 10:54 AM   #4
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#4


Chinook


It arises out over the Pacific, sweeping east across Vancouver Island, down the Strait and up over the Coast Range. Cooling now releasing moisture as it flows across the first summit; then warming as it descends, sucking moisture from the dry interior. Up again, repeating the cycle, first the Selkirks, then the Rockies. Pausing at the divide, poised for an instant before falling, laughing, tumbling to the continent below. Warming now, dry now, a fast warm sponge coursing through the foothills drawing precious water from the suddenly melting snowbanks.

never can forget
the warmth of her first smile nor
the blue of her eyes


A brilliant turquoise sky arches across the western mountains behind somber gray clouds. Temperatures rise twenty degrees in under an hour; a foot of snow vanishes overnight and lake ice heaves. Life quickens; buds are tricked from dormancy; animals emerge blinking from secure dens. But all too soon, the ephemeral wind passes and winter returns.

for that brief moment
reconciliation was
perhaps possible
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Old 03-07-2017, 09:56 PM   #5
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#5

Today I thought of Maggie Lynn's wedding
The time I almost caught her bouquet,
How my fingers brushed like watercolor
Over the stems when Louise

Elbowed me to the side and snatched
The bunch clean out of the air,
Shrieking like she'd slapped home a goal.
It must'a worked for her,

For just five months later, she and Stan,
Big handsome lug of a guy
Who was supposed to be sweet on me,
Walked down the aisle at Sacred Heart.

But Stan got a little rough when in his cups
And just eight years later, Lou
Was up at Muncy doing 18 years,
And her with those two little girls.

I'd found my Denny by then, a good man,
And though I never could conceive,
We lived a good and happy life
Until his car wrecked in ninety-three.

Now Lou at least has the comfort of grandkids
And all I know is an aging little hut
In Shadytown and a teller job I can't let go.
I guess God and the Virgin gave me the good

Up front while Lou had to pay for her sin.
It's funny how life works or don't
And the weird thing is neither me nor Lou
Know whatever happened to Maggie Lynn.
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Old 03-08-2017, 08:45 AM   #6
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#6 Lichening.

Lichen grows grey green upon your stone
and on my mind, obscures.
I remember as I visit with you.

I remember remember .....
your name?
so many years
so many, many ..... Joan!

And if young Joan remembers.
I'll come again
to see you, see the lichen grow,
so slow, so very very grey green slow.
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Old 03-09-2017, 05:46 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AlwaysHungry View Post
#2 The Poem Is a Dirty Sock

Frustrated, you crumple and toss it
into the hamper but then retrieve it.
Who knows? Maybe one or two

more lines is all it needs to be clean,
something neatly folded
you'd gladly put in your drawer

by the one you wrote and liked last year
with three maybe four in the back
you hardly ever wear.

You've laundered it so many times,
and look! There's another new hole.
Christ! You just spelled "sole" as your soul!

Embarrassed, you are reminded
it's time again to trim your nails,
and then in disgust you toss it
because it really does smell,

but when you finally retrieve it,
you burn it instead in your stove
to get the stink out of your head
that's all the way down to your toes

before you grab some loose leaf paper
to start all over again. Who knows?
perhaps even the beginning of
an emperor who has new clothes.
Magnetron, have you got mucky socks?
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They say a smile is a gift which is free to the giver and precious to the recipient.
But giving the finger is free, too, and I find it more personal and sincere.
If at first you don't succeed....skydiving is not for you ....
If you don't pay your exorcist .... do you get repossessed?
I shall always decide not to decide, unless of course I decide to change my mind.
....But I, being poor, have only my dreams, I have spread my dreams under your feet,Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.......
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Old 03-09-2017, 07:24 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AlwaysHungry View Post
#1.

We set out for Madagascar where
Jimmy Fowey said we'd make our fortunes.
He was well read up on such things
from a book his Grandpa gave him for Christmas.

The boat had once belonged to his Pa,
but Ma Fowey stopped him using it when
he rolled home smelling of cheap perfume
and booze, just one weekend too many.

We never did make it, or our fortunes,
and I can still recall the look of horror
on my Ma's face when we were dragged
unceremoniously home by the Coastguard.

Neither me nor Jimmy could sit for a week
and the Hen house had never been so clean.
Years later we lost Jimmy to a landmine, and me?
Some stroke of irony fetched me to the Coastguard's chair.
This one is certainly vignettish, but it seems a hair too prosaic for me. My favorite line is "the Hen house had never been so clean", because the reader has to stop and think for a moment about what is meant by that (I'm still thinking about why Hen is capitalized.) I think that the trick to a vignette is tease the reader with images and let him work out for himself what happened.
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Old 03-09-2017, 07:26 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AlwaysHungry View Post
#4


Chinook


It arises out over the Pacific, sweeping east across Vancouver Island, down the Strait and up over the Coast Range. Cooling now releasing moisture as it flows across the first summit; then warming as it descends, sucking moisture from the dry interior. Up again, repeating the cycle, first the Selkirks, then the Rockies. Pausing at the divide, poised for an instant before falling, laughing, tumbling to the continent below. Warming now, dry now, a fast warm sponge coursing through the foothills drawing precious water from the suddenly melting snowbanks.

never can forget
the warmth of her first smile nor
the blue of her eyes


A brilliant turquoise sky arches across the western mountains behind somber gray clouds. Temperatures rise twenty degrees in under an hour; a foot of snow vanishes overnight and lake ice heaves. Life quickens; buds are tricked from dormancy; animals emerge blinking from secure dens. But all too soon, the ephemeral wind passes and winter returns.

for that brief moment
reconciliation was
perhaps possible
This is interesting. I've been experimenting with some sonnets that follow a similar path, painting a picture of nature and then slipping in an analogy to a love affair. However, I'm not seeing the vignette in this one.
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Old 03-09-2017, 07:30 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AlwaysHungry View Post
#6 Lichening.

Lichen grows grey green upon your stone
and on my mind, obscures.
I remember as I visit with you.

I remember remember .....
your name?
so many years
so many, many ..... Joan!

And if young Joan remembers.
I'll come again
to see you, see the lichen grow,
so slow, so very very grey green slow.
I think that this is quite effective, but I felt a little confused that the narrator speaks of coming to see Joan. It seemed to me that Joan ought to be coming to see him, since he's probably not in shape to be gallivanting around. I may have misread the poem.
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Old 03-09-2017, 07:54 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AlwaysHungry View Post
#5

Today I thought of Maggie Lynn's wedding
The time I almost caught her bouquet,
How my fingers brushed like watercolor
Over the stems when Louise

Elbowed me to the side and snatched
The bunch clean out of the air,
Shrieking like she'd slapped home a goal.
It must'a worked for her,

For just five months later, she and Stan,
Big handsome lug of a guy
Who was supposed to be sweet on me,
Walked down the aisle at Sacred Heart.

But Stan got a little rough when in his cups
And just eight years later, Lou
Was up at Muncy doing 18 years,
And her with those two little girls.

I'd found my Denny by then, a good man,
And though I never could conceive,
We lived a good and happy life
Until his car wrecked in ninety-three.

Now Lou at least has the comfort of grandkids
And all I know is an aging little hut
In Shadytown and a teller job I can't let go.
I guess God and the Virgin gave me the good

Up front while Lou had to pay for her sin.
It's funny how life works or don't
And the weird thing is neither me nor Lou
Know whatever happened to Maggie Lynn.
This one definitely hits the Norman Rockwell groove. I was very intrigued by

How my fingers brushed like watercolor
Over the stems when Louise

Elbowed me to the side and snatched
The bunch clean out of the air


...because of the way the elegance of the watercolor simile is interrupted by a stanza break and then elbowing catches the unwary reader by surprise. I wonder, though, whether the sophistication of the watercolor image fits with the down-home, small-town narrative in the rest of the poem.
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Old 03-09-2017, 07:56 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AlwaysHungry View Post
#3

Soledad is a small woman,
but she's tough like El Árbol del Tule.
And if they let atomic volleys fly
I do believe that on the day that follows
we'll see her trudging doggedly
through fields of ash
bleating, bleating her bicycle horn,
propelling her ancient cart,
and with timbre borrowed
from now-extinct geese
crying "Tamales! Tamales!"
I'm not sure that nuclear war jibes well with the Norman Rockwell ethos, but hey, poetic license.
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Old 03-09-2017, 08:00 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AlwaysHungry View Post
#2 The Poem Is a Dirty Sock

Frustrated, you crumple and toss it
into the hamper but then retrieve it.
Who knows? Maybe one or two

more lines is all it needs to be clean,
something neatly folded
you'd gladly put in your drawer

by the one you wrote and liked last year
with three maybe four in the back
you hardly ever wear.

You've laundered it so many times,
and look! There's another new hole.
Christ! You just spelled "sole" as your soul!

Embarrassed, you are reminded
it's time again to trim your nails,
and then in disgust you toss it
because it really does smell,

but when you finally retrieve it,
you burn it instead in your stove
to get the stink out of your head
that's all the way down to your toes

before you grab some loose leaf paper
to start all over again. Who knows?
perhaps even the beginning of
an emperor who has new clothes.
I think that this would have more of a vignette feel if, instead of being written in the second person, it were some guy named "Gavin" who was burning the sock. But it's a good poem otherwise.
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Old 03-10-2017, 12:01 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AlwaysHungry View Post
I'm not sure that nuclear war jibes well with the Norman Rockwell ethos, but hey, poetic license.
The Norman Rockwell thing is throwing me because that's one kind of vignette, right? One that is specifically American and has a rather specific tone. I've been reading this page, which I find helpful even though it's more prose oriented. But my sense of a vignette is that it captures something thematic like an idea or experience by illustrating it. Not every poem I've read thus far is my idea of a vignette but it's the poet's idea, so I'm interested to hear how people approached this challenge.
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Old 03-10-2017, 12:10 AM   #15
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Quote:
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The Norman Rockwell thing is throwing me because that's one kind of vignette, right?
Right. I'm not offering that as a definition of a vignette. I mention it because in a way, this challenge was inspired by GM's prolific work in the vignette genre, and GM's poems do seem Rockwellesque to me. He has already indicated that he takes this as a compliment, to my relief.
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Old 03-10-2017, 12:17 AM   #16
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Right. I'm not offering that as a definition of a vignette. I mention it because in a way, this challenge was inspired by GM's prolific work in the vignette genre, and GM's poems do seem Rockwellesque to me. He has already indicated that he takes this as a compliment, to my relief.
Got it. Thanks.
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Old 03-10-2017, 05:05 AM   #17
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When AH suggested the challenge, I reviewed what I could find about vignette as a poetic form. Interestingly, most Google hits were about prose. All mentioned "impressionistic." That to me meant "the little vine" poem in and of itself was to suggest "a big vine."

For some reason I can't open the url when I paste the website where I found the definition, so I copied and pasted the section which I found helpful:

Vignette

Vignette is a French word meaning "little vine".
A vignette is a short narrative sketch using evocative figurative language to convey imagery.
Often considered poetic prose it is formatted in free verse and one vignette can include several short stanzas.
For multiple vignettes each should be labeled by a number or letter, most commonly roman numerals.

According to Poetry Magnum Opus,

a Vignette, Old French, is a brief descriptive verse. This is a genre of verse that uses clear and detailed images to paint a picture of a moment in time.

A vignette is usually short and focused. The frame of the Vignette is at the discretion of the poet. A syllabic verse form also called a Vignette is one of the many frames a poet might choose.


Many of those posted thus far include personal nouns, which is fine, but I don't see that as a necessary element in the genre.
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Old 03-10-2017, 08:29 AM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by greenmountaineer View Post
When AH suggested the challenge, I reviewed what I could find about vignette as a poetic form. Interestingly, most Google hits were about prose. All mentioned "impressionistic." That to me meant "the little vine" poem in and of itself was to suggest "a big vine."

For some reason I can't open the url when I paste the website where I found the definition, so I copied and pasted the section which I found helpful:

Vignette

Vignette is a French word meaning "little vine".
A vignette is a short narrative sketch using evocative figurative language to convey imagery.
Often considered poetic prose it is formatted in free verse and one vignette can include several short stanzas.
For multiple vignettes each should be labeled by a number or letter, most commonly roman numerals.

According to Poetry Magnum Opus,

a Vignette, Old French, is a brief descriptive verse. This is a genre of verse that uses clear and detailed images to paint a picture of a moment in time.

A vignette is usually short and focused. The frame of the Vignette is at the discretion of the poet. A syllabic verse form also called a Vignette is one of the many frames a poet might choose.


Many of those posted thus far include personal nouns, which is fine, but I don't see that as a necessary element in the genre.
I agree, overall there seems to be some leeway as to what constitutes a "vignette" but the intent is one of mood or character rather than story. To quote the soon to be defunct Vine Leaves Literary Journal which I think should apply to poetry as well as prose. I am curious how this differs from a vignette in music.


So, what is a vignette?

"Vignette" is a word that originally meant "something that may be written on a vine-leaf." It’s a snapshot in words. It differs from flash fiction or a short story in that its aim doesn’t lie within the traditional realms of structure or plot. Instead, the vignette focuses on one element, mood, character, setting or object. It's descriptive, excellent for character or theme exploration and wordplay. Through a vignette, you create an atmosphere.
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Old 03-11-2017, 06:18 AM   #19
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Originally Posted by UnderYourSpell View Post
Magnetron, have you got mucky socks?
I do tend to wear my socks for more than a day ... or two .......
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Old 03-11-2017, 05:05 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AlwaysHungry View Post
#1.

We set out for Madagascar where
Jimmy Fowey said we'd make our fortunes.
He was well read up on such things
from a book his Grandpa gave him for Christmas.

The boat had once belonged to his Pa,
but Ma Fowey stopped him using it when
he rolled home smelling of cheap perfume
and booze, just one weekend too many.

We never did make it, or our fortunes,
and I can still recall the look of horror
on my Ma's face when we were dragged
unceremoniously home by the Coastguard.

Neither me nor Jimmy could sit for a week
and the Hen house had never been so clean.
Years later we lost Jimmy to a landmine, and me?
Some stroke of irony fetched me to the Coastguard's chair.
I like this and yes it does have a certain green mountainer style, or else it's someone stepping in his footsteps. It evokes a time past and reminds me of tales of my father-in-law's boyhood attempt to circumnavigate Vancouver Island. I too am unsure why Hen house is capitalized.
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Old 03-11-2017, 08:25 PM   #21
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#7 My Father’s House

Here’s that tree-lined street
of stunted, sorry sycamores,
struggling in this city setting.
Summer sees them dusty, drooping
and in winter simply in the way,
their stubborn trunks, sentinels
dodged by cell-phone stooges.

And looming above as if to
threaten, the brown stone
that was once my home,
disadvantaged, dysfunctional,
dishevelled. Past its due-by
but it always was.

Fourth floor walk-up sway-back
steps worn weary by feet
wanting to be elsewhere.
The door’s still shit brown
and flaking, I don’t knock
preferring to remain a stranger.
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Old 03-12-2017, 01:09 PM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AlwaysHungry View Post
#7 My Father’s House

Here’s that tree-lined street
of stunted, sorry sycamores,
struggling in this city setting.
Summer sees them dusty, drooping
and in winter simply in the way,
their stubborn trunks, sentinels
dodged by cell-phone stooges.

And looming above as if to
threaten, the brown stone
that was once my home,
disadvantaged, dysfunctional,
dishevelled. Past its due-by
but it always was.

Fourth floor walk-up sway-back
steps worn weary by feet
wanting to be elsewhere.
The door’s still shit brown
and flaking, I don’t knock
preferring to remain a stranger.
I like this; wish I had written it, although "stooges" is incidental IMO, and because it's so strong and deprecating, it pulls the reader away.
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Old 03-12-2017, 02:13 PM   #23
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Originally Posted by greenmountaineer View Post
I like this; wish I had written it, although "stooges" is incidental IMO, and because it's so strong and deprecating, it pulls the reader away.
When I think of stooges, I think of the Three Stooges getting clunked in the head.

So it kinda draws me in further.
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Old 03-12-2017, 09:03 PM   #24
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# 8 Sun Danced Filmed Festivities

So anal he was
about performing rehearsals
Just one more pass, Robert!

that encore presentations of
pain in my ass sensations
were coming to a theatre near me

Though, I wasn't nearly as bad off
as the crew who insisted upon
drinking the water

WARNING! DANGER AHEAD
Explosive diarrhea everywhere!

But there were periods of respite
we were thankful for

like when Paul ceaselessly
argued with George over
incorporating the Bledsoe Scene
or was brainstorming recipes for
his new "man themed"
salad vinaigrettes

Sam, Katherine and I chilled
in our trailers chugging soda pops
between downing tequila shots
to beat the desert heat
and
The Great Dehydration of 1968
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Old 03-12-2017, 09:05 PM   #25
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#9 The Flat Side of the Earth

On the prairie, there’s a special light just before the sun peeps over the horizon when it’s easy to believe that the Earth is flat.

Grandpa used to say “You could see your dog running away for the next three days” although after a few minutes, our dogs always turned back from the rabbit, coyote or deer they were chasing to lope back for an ear scratch and occasional treat. He didn’t talk about it but for him there was an edge to the East, where our boys went in the two World Wars and never returned. “It’s all in your history books” he’d continue “along with the grain elevators which lined the railway tracks across the prairies and were the center of all those small towns and the people who lived there.” In the winter, there would be dances, ice skating, shiny and he’d sail along the river in the iceboat he’d build himself from old sled runners and wood scraps. Then, he’d paraphrase Bill Mitchell “There was always the wind, even if you closed the doors and covered your ears, you could still hear the wind."

The towns and elevators are almost all gone now. The people have crossed another edge and moved to cities where there are other sounds. When they come out in the winter, if there is any snow, they buzz along in their noisy snow machines with the Bluetooth earbuds in their crash helmets turned to max and they don’t hear anything.

The railway tracks are still there but they don’t carry people anymore, just grain, canola and tar sands oil. Convoys of trucks trundle down the Trans Canada, eighteen wheel herds following the trails of buffalo which had already disappeared even before Grandpa’s time. The spaces in-between are lonely and desolate with only the occasional filling center and every now and then a sideroad to an oil field, mine site or an Indian Reservation. And no one hears the wind.

Last edited by AlwaysHungry : 03-13-2017 at 01:18 PM.
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