Watermelon in a Dry, Dry Place

Emery County, Utah.

People’s favorite melons are the ones that ripen first.
When you crack open the melons or the tour buses or the truck stops the moistness comes trickling out.

The bus came via I-70, I-15 from L.A., the green Han character on the side packed together all the meaning which was visible on that side of the parking lot:

flow/stream; place + person = flags waving; to swim, to float, to wade…

flowing stream of swimming, floating persons wading through places of waving flags…

“TOUR,” it said. Damn it, Chinese is a fine language. Past that thick rind of recognition is all the juice of centuries.

“游”… from the oracle bones of the Shang Dynasty to the brush strokes of the Opium Wars to the refitted Greyhound bus with California plates parked in the truck stop across from the watermelon stand.

People’s favorite melons are the ones that ripen first.
Have you ever seen a tongue preparing the lips with a perversely wet massage while the rest of the body dried and cracked and blistered under the Panama hat of a middle-aged father from Guangzhou? In Utah?
Thinking of the Cantonese watermelons, the Yellow River watermelons, all the watermelons of home, while his children browsed the Chinese-made National Park souvenirs and Native American toys in the air-conditioned building.

The thick rind obstinate, preserving the water inside for you.
Before we could tame deserts we needed to tame the melon.
People’s favorite melons are the ones that ripen first.

Hillbilly of Monterey Bay

Originally published in Heron Clan VI

Hillbilly Larry and I looked back on all
those America places that weren’t beaches
and we probably thunk a spell on all
those beach places that weren’t America.
We poked a dead bloated seal with a stick and
pointed to a flat otter on the road and he said
“you know I don’t read,” and I said, “neither
do most, honky,” an’ that’d be why the

Steinbeck Center was back in town and
Hillbilly Larry and I are walking among the
lettuce in flip-flops an’ West Virginia Reeboks
talkin’ the cardinal directions what organize us.
Lar never saw the ocean before and I
hadn’t seen a tent city for a few days but
I looked at Larry and I pointed out to sea
“I ain’t ‘splainin nothin’ to you, Larry. Go

get knocked around by a coupla waves,
then we’ll get drunk and I’ll talk about all the
beach towns I know back East.” Lar knew
better ‘an that… “‘slong as I don’t wind up
suppin’ on a young girl’s breast or lookin’
out there thinkin’ a rabbits,” “I’m tired of
your hillbilly crap, Larry,” I said, “go swim!
I want you to text me from China by noon.”