Guitar Pickup

A vignette from the 70 hours collection

© 2016 Wayne Slater-Lunsford

The pickup that stopped in front of me was painted in turquoise house paint, showing brush marks and rust bleeding through, but the engine sounded smooth and strong. The miniature man who jumped from the passenger seat to the roadside had flames in his eyes, to match his tousled strawberry-blonde hair, and he shouted across the 15 feet between us “How much you wan’ fo’ dat guitar?” As he strode up to me, we were eye-to-eye, though I remained sitting on my back pack. His shabby, dusty clothes hung loose on a strong frame. I smelled some too-sweet wine on his breath.

I said, “It’s not for sale.”

He shouted over the whirr-buzz of the cicadas in the trees, “Everytang fo’ sale, hippie!  How much you wan?”

“I make my living off this guitar, and it is NOT for sale!”

“Ain’t nobody make a livin’ off a guitar, onless you Johnny cash or Pete Fountain.”

“Well, I do, and besides, Pete Fountain plays clarinet, not guitar!”

“Tooshay, so I’ll l give you twennyfi dolla fo’ the guitar.” (opening a fat wallet and fingering bills)

The hulking driver watched intently from behind the wheel of the turquoise wreck, but did not move.

“Mister, this guitar is not for sale!”

His burning eyes settled on mine, and the wheels whirred, and the cicadas whirred too.

“Well, then I gotta fight ya fo’ it.”

“Man, that ain’t right! You a thief?”

“No, HELL no!,” the eyes flared, then narrowed, and I swear that burning hair stood up on end, and his lip quivered. “If you win, you get de truck.  BOOdrow! (over his shoulder) Fetch dat pink slip from out de box!”

“Mister, I ain’t gonna fight you.  All I want is a ride.”

“No choice! (reaching for the guitar) now, han’ it ovah!”

When his fingers reached the guitar’s neck, close to my own, I grabbed that hand and yanked hard, standing up. The tiny, wiry man stumbled several steps past me, arms flailing and hot head bobbing, into ankle-deep swamp water. Then he stood looking away into the swamp, waving like a cattail in the wind, long enough for me to wonder if I could get my precious guitar into its case before he came back at me again, perhaps with a weapon. He slowly turned a beaming grin toward me, and yelled, “BOOdrow! Git down from dis hippie’s truck, an’ leave de pink slip onna seat! (staggering up from the water, nodding at me) We walkin’ now!”

BOOdrow didn’t stir.

“Man, I am tryin’ to tell you I don’ want no damn pickup truck! All I want is a ride!”

“Well, you can give yosef a ride, now, Hippie (the sandy eyebrows lifted) an’ mebbe me an’ BOOdrow, too?”

I began putting my guitar into its case, muttering, “I just want a ride however far you goin’ up this road.  I do NOT want a truck!”

The cicadas whirred louder as he contemplated the concept. His gait was steady and solid as he led me to the truck and held the passenger door for me, bowing low. I tossed my guitar and backpack into the bed, and took the middle seat.  BOOdrow eased the purring Dodge up the two-lane, and the breeze was kind to our foreheads.

“You shore now? Dis a damn good truck.”

“Yes sir, I am.  I don’t have money for gas to get me to Denver.”

“Well, can you swang a hammer and yank a saw? Me an’ BOOdrow just finished building a house, an’ got paid.  We gonna lay out tomorrow, an’ start another house Monday.”

“I am a carpenter and cabinet maker, and I can even do some sheet metal, But I gotta meet my girl friend in Denver.”

“No you don’t! You can marry my sister.  She cooks as good as she looks, an’ that is mighty fine!  You can stay wit’ us until we build you a house.”

“No, I mean it – I’m going to Denver, no way else.”

We bantered happily up the two-lane until BOOdrow took a right turn onto a narrow road that burrowed eastward, into the Cypress and moss.

“Well, this is my stop.”

“No; dis’ a shortcut!” He and BOOdrow exchanged mischievous grins.

“This road goes East, and I know damned sure Denver is North and West of here!  Let me down and on my way!”

“No; jus’ pause a little – you gotta eat! You taste my sister’s cookin’, you gonna think again about Denver.”

“Now, damnit, first you grab my guitar, and now you gonna kidnap me?”

I turned the ignition off and threw the key out the window, right past HotHead’s nose.

His grin broadened and he jumped out as the truck shushed to a stop. I jumped out too, and he said I had to help him find the keys.  I didn’t mind.  As we walked back to the keys he kept on about the fishing and the Crawdaddys and the Fay-Doh-Doh dance parties there, and I saw the keys first, and snatched them up quick.  He chuckled and followed me back to the truck.

“You fas’ on de uptake, Hippie. You could do good in dis parish.”

I gave him the keys at the door, and went to haul my stuff from the truck bed, but just as I got my pack onto my shoulders, BOOdrow gunned the engine and threw the old heap into gear. I didn’t have hold of my guitar yet, so I jumped into the bed along with it.  HotHead craned his little neck to look back, and burst out laughing to see me with my face against the window.  He hollered, and BOOdrow pulled over, and then HotHead smilingly helped me and my guitar down from the truck.

“Damn, you fast, Hippie! Sure you don’ wanna meet my sister? Can’t blame a man for makin’ one last try, can you?”

“Hell, maybe not… (fighting a grin) but you best get outta here quick, before I think on it too much.”

They disappeared into the moss, and I dug out a can of vegetable soup, opened it and ate it cold, and it was pretty damned good.

A guitar floating in the swamp

I was afraid this would happen.

MAJESTIC

In Marble Halls

WayneSL 2013
a vision shared

You float through the room,
majestic in your steady flow
yet fluid in each sensuous step.
Your sheer gown loves the glass-smooth marble floor
a wave in the wake of your tender toes.
My gaze is captured by the gentle curve of your thigh
rising to a graceful half moon.
Yet full, being double.
Through the gauze I see the dimple
come and go as you move.
Your geisha hair frames a solemn-seeming face
yet thereon lies a hint of smile
which does not lie
is not painted on
is born within
borne by thoughts and feelings forged in fire
to beckon me into your wake
and so I swim behind this lovely vision
to the chamber of love.
Therein you take seven months to slip the shroud
from one soft shoulder to your breast
and I can scarcely breathe
to see the next and the next and your collar bone so fine
the gentle rise of your smooth, spare belly
and your navel and still other signs of your humanity.
Your nipples loved the slipping misty cloth
and stand erect to crave another touch.
I caress them with my eyes
until it’s time for more.
As the shroud falls farther past the fertile hips
and valleys hiding streams within their depths
I tremble just to leap into your river, yet
I dare not still to draw my ready sword
in reverence for your gentle revelation.
Onward and off the shroud more quickly falls
your lovely legs the pillars of a temple
where ardently I soon shall give my all.
The pool of silk around your feet lies spent
the treasure it had guarded now revealed
and I cannot stand longer but must kneel
and beg your leave to enter with my steel.

BEFORE WE DRAW THE LINE

seriousChris

Christopher Slater-Lunsford, who will never draw the line.

Wayne Slater-Lunsford Spring, 1991

The World is both within us
and without us
Before we draw the line.
When we have not yet slowed
our rising forward fall
up into life.
We still trail clouds of glory.
We still own all that we perceive.
We permeate our universe
and grow diffusing
through the ether of experience.

Clear jello with little colored spots
spreading out toward each other
each color cloud another life.
You’re East to me, I’m West to you
our colors mix in the middle
and there’s a new shade in the rainbow.
We as children many selves perceive
other than the ones that elders see
those elders call us make-believe-
the persons that we know ourselves to be.

Mineral

Colossal bust of Ramesses II

Ozymandias Busted. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

Waynesl, 2014

What will be made of my ashes?
More than thrown bones
or leaves that lie
in a cup?
I poured the ashes of my father from the plastic box
and tried to see a man there
a life.
Not even pain remained.
We who were left climbed a rock
in the desert where his last glory had burned
and died
long, long, before his body did.
The backward Santa Ana wind
spread those minerals over sand and stone
indifferent, undifferent in their import.
Methodical Joshuas now incorporate that dust
into thorny, twisted limbs.
Neptune may accept me
And make something of my bones
Some coral or a nematode
Or shark.
The hearts I touched may heal
The minds remember
And if these words find shelter with another
Eternity will make of them my seal.

Hard-on Her-shelf

scream

to be read aloud- not for the eyes alone

WayneSL 1988

She’s
clearly stated,
lamb-innate-dead,
full-did, stay-pulled,
mute-ill-aided.
Her
over-raided
hair is plated,
care-full color
punk-chew-ate-id;
thin, sharp loins
suck-singly sated.
Tho’
she in her-nest
met-hid-dated,
won-tied meat-who
fill her jaded
cave-urn up, she
weak-need hated,
met-dick-ate-head,
then be-rate-dead.
In
steel and glass her
heart/womb crated.
Now
from her four-tress
priss-on fires the
flaming bolts of
quenched desires
and suffers more than
lone-lie-nest

JESSICA’S WALTZ

photo of Wayne & daughter dancing

Jess & me dancing at the cotillion which inspired me to write the song down

For my dancing daughter, 1979

Dance—
and I’ll hold you near.
You dance divinely,
tho your feet don’t touch the ground.
Sway—
in the air up here…
lean on my chest and then
laugh as I whirl you around!

Oh, you’re my little girl.
You’re a joy and a beauty to know.
When you smile, I feel good-
and that’s why I’m pinching your toe . . . .

You—
are a child of love.
Gentle and joyful,
dancing your way through the world.
You float—
like the clouds above…
Go where the wind goes,
my light-hearted, light-headed girl!

Oh, you’re my little girl.
You’re a joy and a beauty to know.
When you smile, I feel good-
and that’s why I’m pinching your toe . . . .

Cry—
and the rain comes down.
Smile, and the sun shines,
laugh, and the sky turns to blue.
Frown—
and I’ll be your clown…
nasty or nice, girl,
you know that I’ll always love you!

Freedom, Bound

moon in clouds

Play Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata as you read this.

WayneSL to Bryan 1987

There is so little comfort in your life;
you have not spent your
self
on comfort.
Naked madness
howls in empty lots
on moonlit borders
of my thoughts of you
Your search continues
in exile.
Eating garbage and dandelions.
for years.
Sleeping in the bus depot
while the buses leave.

You, who hear the music
of plants and mountains-
who know the feel of wood in hand
and shovel sunk in dirt-
and see the patterns
of the stars
and molecules
You spend your time
amid the greasy peeling Formica,
among the moths and mosquitoes
on streetlamp peninsulas,
overlooking tar-river streets
or walking out along the strand
of the interstate ocean,
and harboring in
dusty over-used slum rooms
with too many coats of paint
unless you
sprout like a mushroom on some morning lawn,
awakened by dew settling
to sparkle on your
stubble-bearded face
or root through mountain forest floors
for grub
and stride across the desert.

BABYTALK

WayneSL 1987–Michael

I listen to my
baby talk
baby talk
into the dark of a sleep-still room.

Beneath the moon
a jet lands
a car sings by
and the leaves of a sapling applaud
a clever night breeze.

He’s speaking words of his own invention
a song of good and happy thoughts
no lies.
He is what I was
unlimited.

His mother and I lie arm for arm
leg on leg, sharing
a long unguarded border
like shadows of each other
in suspended animation.

I ignore the cramp that bids me move
as long as I can.

Fire Horse

fireHorse400x300

By WayneSL, from photos taken in Lancaster, CA

WayneSL 2013

I watch you ride by and envy you the thrill
yet if I could knock you out of that saddle
still I would not.
You grip the rope;
your hand is white with wrapped windings
binding you to the arching, heaving flame.
You breathe long and steady through clenched teeth.
In tense smile density
Choked to thicken the mix
throttled to endure.

Then back to idle when the heat arrives.
I have no license, don’t even know the gears.
I have felt that mane, those flanks
those hooves.
Ride on, and may you never fall
though this iron horse can never be tamed.

Speculum

Waynesl 2013

I’m vertical
and trying to herd these cats
that are my thoughts and feelings

in a stampede of surly turtles

out the door and off to a job

I am learning to loathe.

I slept only a few hours
and don’t remember any dreams;

just a vision
through a cracked porcelain mask and a plate of glass
and another cracked porcelain mask

of my own crystal tears.