Scene-setting roll call:
an army of empty beers,
a shopping cart—
“The more you spend, the more you save.”
Five guys on milk crates
circle their pallet-wood campfire.
Morning lifts the scuffled dirt, dust,
talk and roll-your-owns.
Sean, the resident ‘elder’ pumps a transient newbie.
Their tossed words mature into story.
I’m clicking the old Nikon.
Reloading, clicking, reloading, clicking, reloading…
In academic settings it’s called ‘oral histories.’
In Bellingham, decorating The Columns
holding up the south end of Railroad Avenue
hand-drawn “T’s” after the “O’s”
make the stenciled NO TRESPASSING,
well, you get it.
Twenty feet and a chain link fence away
Burlington Northern Santa Fe
humps a half-mile long freight.
Screeching wheels-on-steel suck up our talk.
Pulled north to Canada,
the last box car carries our silence.
New roll-your-owns are lit.
I’m asked, “What’s your story?”
“Today my story is your stories.”
I stow the Nikon,
claim a vacant crate,
pick up a couple sheets of paper
the wind’s been playing with