Down and Out in Idabel (redux)

Pigments (2)


Down and Out in Idabel

How Myron found himself in the parking lot
of the Holiday Inn in Idabel, Oklahoma
looking out at the road
on a Saturday morning in April
– after a breakfast of brittle bacon,
sausages slick with grease,
dry fluorescent scrambled eggs –
is not important.

The road pauses, a skittish dog roams.
Myron’s eyes are drawn to a dead armadillo
upside down on the hard shoulder
an empty beer can in its claws:
Old Milwaukee, prehistoric drunk,
someone’s joke.

A pick up truck passes
a pick up truck passes
a pick up truck passes
over the fence a cow chews grass
and makes a meal of it.
Dogwoods bloom.
The cow moos like a reluctant foghorn.
Myron’s mood turns
he thinks about the cow,
Manifest Destiny,
the plight of the bison
our lust for red meat
while greenhouse gas
shimmies upwards
ice caps melt
glaciers retreat
and looking down
the road to Shreveport
buoyed by the prospect
of seeing Idabel
in his rear-view mirror
he quietly resolves
to recover what he was
before sadness lodged
like a wet sack
in the back
of his head.

This poem originally appeared in issue 38 of The SHOp poetry magazine (print) which was a fine magazine, unfortunately they closed up shop a few years ago.

Taking part in earthweal open link weekend, head over there and read Brendan’s very eloquent and comprehensive post on climate change.

This is my third in a series of climate change related posts, it wasn’t planned that way, but I guess that’s the way the wind is blowing this week!






21 thoughts on “Down and Out in Idabel (redux)

  1. earthweal

    You find and peel the moment with so many fine details, the road-side fare, tits up armadillo with a beer can for a headstone (now that’s respect), the mournful meatcow, all of which rounds back to bad appetite, global warming and this awful sense inside that I take for a burp of solastalgia — “he quietly resolves / to recover what he was”. This is really excellent stuff, Jim, thanks so much for bringing it to earthweal and keep it coming – Brendan


  2. hedgewitch

    If you haven’t been to Idabel, you have a remarkably accurate imagined picture of it, and if you have, on the road to another place of sheetmetal American desolation, Shreveport, you’ve found all its secrets, such as they are, and laid them bare. I especially liked the pick up trucks and the dead armadillo, but the progress of the poem from there is also waywardly charming, pungent, neat and evocative.Has all this waste, this flat, merciless and uncaring destruction come from the deep sadness that blots out thinking–that would be a kinder explanation, indeed. Excellent poem.My privilege to read it.


    1. sdtp33 Post author

      Thank you for your generous comments, glad you like the poem and yes, I have been to Idabel, Valiant. Texarcana ….interesting places in their own way!


  3. Sherry Marr

    Oh my goodness, how wonderful a write this is…the armadillo, the languid cow, the tie-in to climate change and that SADNESS in the back of one’s head, that I feel, that all we conscious folk feel these days. Yes, do keep ’em coming!


  4. Truedessa

    Riders in the storm…does no one notice the kill whether armadillo or something more. Okay, I am going to a different place. Your poem is deep and took me somewhere else.


    1. sdtp33 Post author

      Thanks Steve…that poem came from a book a read about the evils of red meat and how it has been the cause of all the world’s woes (an over-simplification of course). I tried to cram all the ideas in the book (plus some others) into one poem and it took me forever!!

      Liked by 1 person


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