The Road to White Cloud

Robert VanderMolen

Tumps of fish rotting
He couldn’t sell

The yellow yard of a cabin

I’d gone to a party

With friends
Who slipped off
Among cypress, sometime
Before morning,
When I was rousted
To go down to his boat,
And chug up the channel,
Baiting hooks with


I once rowed
Across a private lake
Angling for bluegill
The cedar skiff painted
Maroon with white oars,
An easy conversation
With water

Then to a road house


Somewhere in Ontario
(Parry Sound,
Granite rounding up
Through a glassy bay,
Gulls, dragonflies,
A thin woman in a vest
At the edge of shore:
By the end of the war
We ate cats, called them
Roof rabbits

A gnarl in her accent
Her small son
Had a growth on one eye

A day or two later
I was with circus trucks
The scent of elephants
And mud
From one farm town
To the next


Following arrows
To Newfoundland,
Florida, Oklahoma
And farther west


Sitting behind
My buddy Henry
Two locals
Were discussing
Total depravity.
We finished
Our liver and onions
And left in fog
For the wheat harvest
On the other side
Of lava-pocked hills


Brittle talk with myself

Morning gloam


Motels sag
Back into nature
Near what resembled
An abandoned flea market,
Birch returning and tamarack

Everyone grown chubby

Wild-eyed dogs
In the rears of pickups –

Your strength is your weakness,
A judge once told me
Luckily I kept my mouth shut


Window open, orioles flitting
Through a familiar breeze

On this two-lane
Heading to see my brother again