Portrait Of A Traveler

Ky Hote in Mackenzie, BC            The journey never began waiting for a ride in Sacramento, California. After six hours and two new songs, the message came that freight trains were the way to go - jazz and all the clean dirt you could fit on your body would be supplied at no cost and with as little risk as sky-diving. After sucking on stones to stay awake and cursing commuters, he didn’t have to asked twice and got off at the freight yards of Rosedale at twilight. By midnight he was sleeping alone and travelling at the same time. He dreamt of having a bathroom bowl to clean.
           Grandma’s cupcake was a very fine cupcake - it glistened with whole wheat naturally dyed honey sprinkles - she shared both her
cupcakes (after all she had two) with the knight who was in good standing with the King - he had recently saved the girl in the shower from the mad raging growly noise that stalked her underneath the drain - and the guitar player who had lost the toothpicks under his eyelids. He accepted the gift for energy. She also shared her coffeecake filled with too many apples with the oboe that had sat in on the session just because s/he happened to be visiting the studio that day. The oboe sat crying softly after playing.
           The train travelledly-racked down the tracks and he got up and tied a bandana around his head to absorb some of the early morning sun that bore down on him in his boxcar. “Why would I ever stand by the road again?” he wondered.
           He walked into the living room striding like Jack Nicholson, “Yes I’ve heard a lot about you,” she announced upon meeting the dusty traveler. He grinned back as though to say all the cliches have been used to describe how he felt about that. She led him into a room when everyone else was gone and told him she was in love with his brother. He thanked her for the massage and assured her his brother lived under the absolute value of: “Never trust a Prankster.”
           He jumped back on the train after taking a piss, sat down and waited. Soon a train on the other track came past heading the opposite direction and he waved to the brakeman on the caboose. Some things are always constant, he pondered. “If I waited long enough, a train would surely wizz by,” as it did just then. Then he laughed. He knew it didn’t always happen.
           He hugged her softly as though all the love and strength that bound them together was tender and perfect and needed not to be explained. “I’m changing growing moving... I’ve been hallucinating dreaming missing... I’ve been missing you and...” She listened with a third eye that felt what he said. There were no miscalculations in the translation. They laid together silently and motionless and made love.
Owl at the Texas Rennaisance Faire
           Riding a flatcar now he rolled out his sleeping bag and laid back to see God. He had just passed through Bend, Oregon and imagined that when he awoke, he would be just about to Wishram, Washington. He dreamed of the many roads he could take from there. The road to Idaho seemed majestic as he fell asleep.
           They danced as a tribe or a community might - at times the forty or so of them would make a train or a chain and move along syncopating each other. Most of the band hit wooden planks to simulate what the listeners would accept as melody, while the drummer kept their sixth senses jiving and living. He looked over at his half-brother and sighed in an ecstatic leap - it had been more than a long time since he had seen him; it had been even longer than that since they had spent any time being with each other instead of just recapturing what one another had missed, just trying to beat the clock. He knew their lives had become more different than before - but that could never break the similarities that became them. Upon reaching the ground, he fell madly in love and embraced. The stars shifted position and somewhere in the corner, a Ping-Pong player felt his instincts and beat a hotshot. It was a night like that and he danced with it. The next day he caught a ride from a Texas trucker heading east all the way to Montana.
           It became totally dark and he knew he was near the border of Washington. The light came back as he left the tunnel and he breathed out the door and over the rolling hills. Across the river he saw a tent and waved, but it did not wave back. He laughed Hello anyway and picked up his guitar. Belting and yodeling, he wished the western river a good morning and may there be many more.
         Grandma brought the veil from her face and said she was finished crying. The knight was, for all purposes, tired and insisted that he had to go home. The oboe suggested maybe there was some reason that she should leave too. Grandma told them she would call them the next day and then proceeded to settle down with the guitar player.
He winced and said, “you know I’m not staying...” He took her hand and they laughed softly... she drank some and they winced even more softly. “You know I love you,” she offered him. He accepted the gift for validation and said nothing for many hours.
          With only a slight jolt, he awoke to the freeway’s victims’ zooming unknowingly past him. He rolled up his sleeping bag separating his dreams from his memories and hopes and headed for the edge of the highway. “Why must you always go?” Grandma cried from a car as she sped by. He smiled as a car with Wisconsin plates pulled to the side of the road for him. Like a slap in the face, he was gone.

Owl Photo by Jim Hancock 1997
Text by Ky Hote

Text excerpted from the notes to the tape FSL 11/30, Music Ink Sounds MS6K002 1983