Llano Estacado

LLANO ESTACADO

 

I love the Llano Estacado,

Lubbock’s on its ledge,

up the Double Mountain Fork

on the Brazos River’s edge.

You can see where you rise up

if you know where to look.

They noticed things’d changed as they hit Lubbock

after a night spent flopping in a bubble-tub

somewhere ‘cross a dozen lanes from Arlington Stadium.

A wall of black clouds stayed a ways behind them

as they did the limit on I-20 West through Abilene.

Radar traps a reality in Texas;

biggest boring State you’ve ever seen.

Pulling in a grocery store off Slaton,

looked around for beer too long a time.

“Ain’t got none o’ that” said the girl.

Her gum cracked as she spoke.

I bought some gum and Blistex

then headed for the door,

meeting two clean-cut young men

who said “Nowhere in this town.”

Their twin white shirts and narrow ties

were tip-offs to their grind.

“Orren 1 and Orren 2!” I giggled as I spun

then noticed that the air around

the parking lot had turned –

the way a luscious oyster will

when left out in the sun.

A truck was being picked up

by at least 3 billion flies.

We took off, choking, found a room.

The girls soon stopped their gagging;

had Shirley Temples with their steaks

which seemed to make them happy.

A dry town is alright with me

so long’s I haven’t a thirst

from dreaming lusty, frosty gustos

all the way up from Fort Worth.

I love the Llano Estacado,

Lubbock’s on its ledge,

up the Double Mountain Fork

on the Brazos River’s edge.

You can see where you rise up

if you know where to look.

The orangish-yellow morning sun

was whiting hot quite early on.

Denny’s by the Walk of Fame:

eating sausage gravy biscuits,

Buddy’s profile over the kids’ heads.

“Seems’t lots’a folks’ cars die

(and they see Lubbock for a week)”

the waitress said.  The mate’s eyes

near popped out her head.

I smiled, (she’d nearly got me

with her dry, West Texas joke.)

I left her a good tip, got up,

said “Let’s get out’a Texas, folks.”

“Humungous” or “The Mung”

was what a once-owned car’d been named.

A behemouth of a wagon with a 440

that I’d once awakened from a nap

to find doing ninety-two

under my mate’s lead shoe.

Now our Conestoga was a Ford,

a priestly-looking sedan

with a six-stiff trunk;

all our gear out’a sight.

“Mung Senior” was near middle age

but still strong and quick and

so I had utter confidence

he’d not choose Lubbock to get sick in.

Pix taken of the Holly man,

we went up US 84

and gassed up ‘cross the line in Clovis

where they sold beer at gas stations.

Big grain elevators on wide, dusted streets,

staked plain miraging,

shimmering in the sun

off miles into the white indistinct….

Showing the kids what Rattlers look like

at a sad tourist trap East of Fort Sumner.

Then making our pilgrimage to the cage

where they’d replaced the stone on the grave

of the Bonney boy,

strapped with iron bands

even in death.

The beer (bought from the dark old woman,

pistol on her hip, in the drive-through window,

who didn’t say nothin’ but made correct change,)

tasted special at seventy-three

on roads where you could see

everything for ten miles front and back

except when approaching the next rise

with wary eyes, shaded against

the Comanche sun’s attack.

Santa Fe had grown in fifteen years.

Overrun by hipoisie,

arty queers and import beers

at restaurants with three-figure wines

although we did, with effort, find

a perfect Margarita, Herradura divine,

one night at a dirt floor place with bar,

wood dark as a Tesuque face on a midnight raid.

I love the Llano Estacado,

it ends at the blood of Christ

up the Pecos t’ward Apache Canyon.

You can see just where you rise

if you know where to look

and ain’t crossed your eyes.

©  James T. Risdon 1992


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