A return to Cassiopeia Books, but this time traveling with my good friend and one of my favorite musicsmiths Greg Klyma. He flew out from Boston for a show at Elk River Books, and from there, we hit the Silver Dollar in Butte and a couple live radio sessions, but for the Great Falls show, I was the opener, performing a handful of poems from Vagabond Song as well as some new ones that I hope to include in a forthcoming project. More about that in some much later post.
Driving up from Livingston and stopping for lunch in White Sulphur Springs, then into the magic of the Little Belt Mountains. We stop halfway through for a short walk into the slick rocks and fir trees with yellow-bellied marmots zipping over boulders and stumps. Once in Great Falls, we have a couple drinks at a bar near the bookstore where another guy in a fedora compliments mine. Kindred spirits. Comrades in the anti-baseball hat faction.
After the reading, as expected, we visited the mermaids at the Sip n Dip — and, a first sighting for me: a merman. The sexual revolution is alive and well in Montana.
On the way home, we stopped off at Bar 47 in White Sulphur for lunch, and Greg started plinking on the piano. Right away, the owner turned off the house music and joined him for a duet of “Crazy.” I suddenly had a new favorite bar.
And, I have a very rough draft of a new poem:
A slurry of sleet softens to snow
as we top the Little Belts & begin
the descent toward the science fiction
of Great Falls
a city dropped from the sky
into the middle of rolling ranchlands or
unpacked overnight by top secret
machines of the Air Force Base
in a flurry of Cold War propaganda
I stand with the longest river in the country
on my left hand and the shortest on my right
From spring to mouth in 201 feet
the Roe River in its subterranean-cleansed clarity
contains all a river could
At 2,341 miles, the Missouri holds
the history of a continent, the bones of
an Irish revolutionary, the songs of
the Blackfeet, Hidatsa, Lakota, Mandan,
Omaha, Ponca, Métis and dozens more,
the echoes of bison and the shadows of tree swallows
mapping the demise of unseen
insects above the unseen broodings
Stretching, I could place a hand in each
but it’s time to get back on the road