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JOEL WHITTEN
Louisiana
 

 

 

The Edge of Times

Morning sun spills through the kitchen window
Pouring cereal, looking north, seeing the garden
Seeing the backyard fence
Seeing the large brown eyes looking back
Over the backyard fence
Standing on tip toes looking over her head
There is a pasture, there is a pump, there are the towers
Three sentinels standing tall
Looking down at the herd, grazing pasture
Barbwire is down again
The ceaseless wind blows
From the north, smell the city
From the south, smell the farm
Caught in the middle
The edge of times
Barbwire broke by the old cemetery toward the east
Between bodark posts, close to the creek, electric wire broken
Cows don't care when hungry
Seek out grass even if it hurts and sparks
Into the forbidden pasture
One stands by the oil pumper capped in '73
Eating bluestem, growing tall, nurtured by crude
Chewing with that vapid stare
Probably remembering that shock
Then again, probably not
The ceaseless wind blows
From the east, smell the cows
From the west, smell the dump
Caught in the middle
The edge of times
The cowboys arriving in their '64 Ford truck
Wearing hats, sporting Keds, drinking Coors
Unloading the Honda 90
The ugly smelly modern horse
Good for jackrabbits and cows
The cattle driven back in about an hour
Barbwire mended, electric patched, charge complete
Cows at the pond drinking
Red water and turtles
Fell through that ice once
The ceaseless wind blows
When it spins, no more cows
When it swirls, no more memories
Caught in the middle
The edge of times
The towers are gone now
The farms are gone now
The creek is a river now, a park
Most of the homes are gone
Many, many more coming back
The wind and the city have eaten the country
No longer the edge of times

2015, Joel Whitten ("Bluestem Joel")
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's permission.

 

 

 



 

   About Joel Whitten:
                                           
provided 2016

I was born in Oklahoma City when Eisenhower was still president. When we moved to Moore, Oklahoma, most of the streets and roads were dirt or tar coated gravel. I grew up in the last subdivision before everything became pasture, farm, and ranch. We didn't have a paved street for at least another two years after we moved in. Our house backed up to a 90 acre pasture of bluestem grass and prickly pear cactus. In the middle of the pasture, 100 yards behind our house was a pumping oil well. At the front of the pasture, by the highway, were the three giant KOMA radio towers. The pasture was off limits to grazing, but the cattle was out there a lot anyway. I learned to shoot bow and arrow and BB guns in that pasture (when the cows were not around, of course).

Even though we lived in what was called the suburbs, we were sure we lived in the country. Many of my friends and family lived on farms or ranches and I spent as much of my time "out on the farm." Worst jobs ever: hauling hay and cleaning out stalls. But if you were lucky you got a horse back ride out of the deal.

Graduated from Moore High in 1976 and went on to college in Oklahoma City, worked for a couple of years in Norman, went back to college at OSU in Okmulgee, got married to the most wonderful woman in the world, went to work in Tulsa as an engineer, and finally ended up in beautiful Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Been in Baton Rouge since 1988 and had our son in 1992. We have a wonderful life here, but I often think back of growing up in Oklahoma. I do not miss the tornados, but I do miss the pasture and the horses. The oil well was pulled out in 1973 and the towers were blown down by an F5 a couple of years ago. The house I grew up in survived (heavily damaged), but the school that my dad helped commission was a total loss. I seem to remember that seven children died in that school. So very sad.

My profession is engineering, but my passion is music, poetry, and art. I run a boutique private studio (Metal Shed Studio) where I have recorded many local Americana type folks. My own music is Progressive Metal, so it is wonderfully odd that my clients are almost all Americana, but I do love their music. Maybe I'm finally growing up.


 

 


 

 

 

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