Friday, November 20, 2015

Painted Wagon

On Sunday, I left the YT Haiku Retreat a little early; I was very tired and didn't want to be driving home in the late afternoon beach traffic. South of Gilroy, I was tooling along at 65 in the slow lane when I scratched or rubbed my eye. Soon I saw that my contact lens (the one specialized for reading, not the long-distance one) was knocked out of place and was somewhere else either inside or outside my eye. This part of the freeway doesn't look easy to stop and get back on, so I continued to drive with one hand and try to reset my lens with the other. Didn't work and soon I saw a little blood on my finger.  Got off the freeway as soon as I could, and wound up on Bolsa Road (still south of Gilroy) and went on a while, looking for a good place to park, which turned out to be in the huge deserted parking lot associated with this sign. My lens was in my eye after all, and I put it back where it belonged. Aware that my nose was running, I got a napkin (thanks, Taco Bell, for giving too many!) out of the glove box and blew my nose. Blew loose a big blood clot; I have a nose bleed! My eye isn't bleeding! I am not subject to frequent nosebleeds, so hadn't thought of that! Pressing the side of my nose to be sure to stop the nosebleed, I looked around. I was parked right below this sign, which had an interesting Yesteryear Vibe, and I took a couple of iPhone pictures through the windshield.

Back home this was an irresistible target for Google. Right away I found someone else's photo on Flickr; it is almost identical to this one but taken in a different light. So much for my artistry. The other thing I found was the obituary for the man who built this motel (there is still an unused large building deep at the back of the lot) and named it for his wife, Senaida. His name was Jacob Villalba and his obituary is here.  He was quite an entrepreneur. I also found two photo sites recommending locations to take photographs in South Santa Clara County. Next spring I will try this. It's a plan.

Just Outside of Los Angeles

It's nearly midnight and Gary's backyard is dark,
and the police must be chasing someone because
the helicopter's spotlight turns it all into day.

The giant white light shows him everything,
his wife's plants, the kids' toys, his brother's dead car.
It's nearly midnight and Gary's backyard was dark

but he sees it all now and it seems that he never
noticed how little of him was there before
the helicopter's spotlight turned it all into day.

This life is his wife's, his kids', his brother's
and he, what is he? An afterthought? The cash?
It's nearly midnight and Gary's backyard is dark

again, and his groping hand finds his wife's tree,
and without thinking, he plucks a pomegranate.
The helicopter's spotlight turns it all into day

once more, and he sees the fruit in his hand, that
perfect red fruit, and he brings it to his nose to inhale.
It's nearly midnight and Gary's backyard is dark, but
the helicopter's spotlight has turned it all into day.

John Brantingham      (currently active, no Wikipedia article)

East of Los Angeles; poems by John Brantingham,
Anaphora Literary Press, 2011, page 63.

ON first reading, this may seem like a standard poem of male discontent, and that's not completely wrong, But look at the structure. It is a real villanelle, that doesn't announce that about itself, one has to figure it out. Here is a good description of this classic structure from  I have been meaning to try this for a long time and so might you!

I just found this! John Brantingham's website with a PROMPT every day!

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