In Eastern Washington,
long shadows rise low
to fall high.

Thickets dot this desert
Douglas Fir do the forest.

Dilapidating barns
and telephone poles
stand erect or slump;
monuments to a century
old forest
and the sawmill harvest.
Long has flesh left
the bones of they;
these men of beards,
bad breathe,
and hatchets.
Here, then, they left us
their skeletons
of wood, iron, rust,
and general abandonment.
Men without women;
the true pioneers
of the state
I once lived.

Clouds follow
the eroding lines
running circles round
this landscape.
Boulders strewn from
Missoula to the Sound
cast no doubt of
an ancient glacier’s
flooding exit wound;
a crime scene
of melted ice
and the farmland
that’s prospered
from bled deposits.

I chew a croissant,
listening to a lady
about her once
dainty daughter
who’d moved to
North Dakota
for love of a farmer.
I pour more cream
in my coffee than she.

I’ve forgotten
so much of
this state.
This state, I see
again, now,
in a different
state of mind.
I’ve forgotten
so much of
this state,
having left it
one year ago.

It’s always easier
to remember,
harder to forget
and something else
to come back again;
something I can’t
put my finger on
quite yet.

I sit in my seat, as
the observation car
is gone. We disconnected
in Spokane from that train
with the cafe
that served the strongest
Amtrak coffee
because Janice makes it
how she likes to drink it.
That train went South
to Portland.

We pass through
a small town
wooden crates
full of grapes.
I remember this.
Oh Washington,
if I hadn’t left,
I probably never

In a dessert, though,
if you’re not growing,
then you’re probably
dying to leave.
So, it’s good
that I’d gone.
If you never
you can never
come back.
But of course,
you can never
truly come back,
anyway, “they” say.

I am a man, slowly
travelling by train,
searching for a state
that will have me
or invite me to have
longer than a minute.
My only interest
in having a state,
is finding the state
of mind
only achieved by being
It is this state
I belong;
the state I am in,
while writing
as the landscape
and my life
are blurred
by my utter

It’s not a bad state
to visit
if you have the time
to take some freedom.
It’s not a bad state.
But I’m not staying
forever. Few do.
I’m reminded
what we do leave
as I look down
at the tracks,
as they and time
rush by.
Wood, iron, and rust.
We are travelling
on the skeletons
of those
who laid the tracks
before us.

Men with beards
two days by train.
Either way
you trim it,
I think
I need
a shave.

written on 05/26/2014 by: Matt Kane