Road Reflections

Selected Writings


© 2017 William Tecku

     You can walk on me, but that don't make you Jesus. You can drive your ATV across me, but that don't mean you're gonna catch anything today. Bet that ain't what you told your son when you told him to wake up if he wanted to fish the St. Louis River this morning.
     So, daddy, is fifteen below cold enough for ya? Why you jigin' your bait so hard? This fishin' inaction remind you of that gal in Hermantown who won't say nothin' about when they might call you back to work?
     Don't take your eyes off your two tip ups! Don't expect your little boy to notice when there's a fish on!
     Starin' up from my murky bottom I see your scraggly, red beard is icin' up. Time to crack open your second thermos. Ya oughta see all the trophy fish down here! Your eyes are on your lines, but your mind is tipped up on top of those lines of chimney smoke threadin' straight up over West Duluth.
     You should be bringin' home the bacon but here you are hunched over me sweatin' whether not workin' will body check you from the fryin' pan into the fire.
     Your checking account was filleted yesterday. Damn it! Don't look so proud! Like I can't see behind your sunglasses that you're hangin' on as hard as a weighed anchor? Your wife sees it. Your son sees it. Just because you don't see it don't mean it ain't smilin' back at you like a patch of black ice.
     The land sharks and their talk radio tools don't want you to see that side of yourself. Their bait blasts inside half the shacks sittin' on me. They want you to swallow their hook that it's all Washington's fault. Don't ya know they's blame the sinkin' of the Edmond Fitzgerald on politics if they thought you'd bite. They got you shakin' in your Sorels or no? 
     Look! You got a fish on! Can't you hear your son yellin'? Even your dog is barkin'! Good! You hear'em. You finally pulled a keeper walleye outta me. Look at it floppin' around on the snow. Don't let it slip back into the hole!
     That's right. Go right ahead. Shout about it to yourself, to your boy, to your dog like you got called back to work or somethin'. Take a selfie, you know, just to prove it happened. Keep jumpin' up and down on me! It'll warm you up! Start your braggin' now. Deep down I love hearin' lies you call fish stories. Blow, daddy, blow like the wind barrelin' down across Superior from Thunder Bay.

("Undercurrents" was a 2017 Lake Superior Writers Contest winner.)

The Tall One
© 2017 William Tecku

L . . . O . . . O . . . K!
A cashe of full moon
crash-lands on earth!
A thick cut slice of granite
scrapes sky 20,000 feet high,
sun soaks, sows clouds, spread-eagles
slopes of ice, snow, and ice cold air.

Sprung from deep earth
before Time ticked,
it stands snowbound
singing wind songs,
burning moonlight
mind of snowy owl
until white bears, ten feet tall
on their hind legs,
stare at it to feel taller
than a hunter's hope,
a prospector's dream.

Was it an Athabascan,
crackling, campfire dance
that sparked stories and thanks
to a polar bear for its fur,
and a man's or woman's
watery eyes wandered
a dream's distance
from the fire
to a white face,
out wintering winter,
to a head and shoulders
standing tallest above
camouflaged ptarmigan
who held their breath

until native lips named
T . . . H . . . I . . . S 
mountain Denali?

Valediction of a Crash Test Dummy
                                           © 2012 William Tecku

You can't sell me a coffin
to save your life,
but you massaging my data
is a sweet perk for me.

Yeah, you might be a young smart
from New Delhi, Nanjing, or Oxnard,
yet if you don't kowtow to me
they'll take your work badge
and send you home
where your parents
have traded your trophies
for touchscreens.

Aaaaaah! Smell that cashy, new car smell?
Does it warm up your sensors too?
It gets me day dreaming about places
where, you say, you don't have to be
a high roller to get the keys
to a new life.

Dummy up!
Want work that makes a difference?
You'll save big time on your parts.
You'll be the last one they lay off.
You'll love how your
day dreaming coworkers
floss wreckage
from your teeth.

The Siwa Oasis 10, 000 B.C.
© 2016 William Tecku

Dying of thirst we crawl in place for water.
Haboobs blow. The sun closes its eye.
Blood floods down dunes.

By spears, by arrows we fly
from the oasis at our feet
and dream one sip
of peace.

Standing still we stagger home,
open our fists, and let it rain.

Higher Math in Monroeville, Alabama
                                     © 2016 William Tecku

When numbers crunch me in noisy corners, in quiet crowds,
and I only want the right answer without showing my work,
it's sweet as Archimedes Pi to hear you, Harper,
in the voice of Atticus, ". . . remember
it's a sin to kill a mockingbird," or see you
in Scout's stare when she saw
no one could save Tom Robinson
because, back then in the South,
you could be Cain, you could be Abel,
but if you looked eight ball black
instead of cue ball white
then the tools of fools
made sure you never
ran the table.

When no-count men lynched the light
behind Lady Justice's blind eyes,
you, Miss Lee, let starlight
blaze through Boo.
Because you dared do
a higher math
we stand as you pass
under the grass.

The sum of your pages
multiplies to infinity
what falls from our eyes
for it never adds up
for folks to divide.

   National Geographic Covers 1985 and 2002
                                 from Voices © 2004 William Tecku

"Kodak moment! Kodak moment!"
my cousin's children from Kabul teased me
when I told them you were coming back,
after seventeen years, to again photograph me.

I have my education since I was a girl in school
and in our tent in the refugee camp where you
took pictures of me. But "Kodak moment!"
What does this mean? Why are you here again?
To take pictures of my old woman's face?
Must American magazines have such pictures?
This I have not learned.

I have learned that your smart bombs
are as dumb as the Taliban.
Before you came to my school
I learned that one's eyes
are windows to one's soul.
Is this why you say so many
have looked at mine?

What can you do to make my life better?
New clothes? No.
Money? No.
A camera like yours? No.

During the wars I hoped
I could go to Mecca.

It would please my husband and me
if you could help our daughters
complete their education.
This would please us. Yes.

You ask what? Do people here say my eyes
are as green as the green in paradise? No.
For that you must keep looking.

                        Searching for Intelligent Life                                                       from Godspeed the Light © 2007 William Tecku

"Well, Larry, I really don't know
how to answer that question
one way or another,
even though I've walked
on the moon."

(cut to a commercial break)

Pugilistic prophets, juicy and low cal
as watermelon, and one orbiting pearl
necklace the night.

Tractors, iTunes, toxins,
post-high school tremors,
text message-ed
above tasseled corn,
cultivate farm boys,
farm girls, townies,
and tourists Friday night
downtown below radar
where beers and blue jean tight skies
rocket Rockford, Illinois.

Who are we
who arrive here
wet as dew, love, 
plant/harvest heaven
and hell, and, reportedly,
crash land our gravity
in this quadrant
of this universe?

(return from a commercial break)

"Well, Buzz, thank you
for sharing your thoughts
about aliens."

      After Goliath                                                                                  © February 2, 2013 William Tecku

. . . after Goliath? Anderson, endorsements
fell in line like the Philistines!
Even got an arm and a leg
for his head!
Heck, a prophet shows up
at one of my book signings,
tells me I'll be bigger
than Lady Gaga, whoever
she's gonna be.

How'd I get punked by that DJ from Gath?
That's a good question, Anderson,
'cause it cost me my posse
and a product liability suit.
Slingshots don't kill people!
People do!

   The Junk Man Cometh                                  
                              from Overtime © 1985 William Tecku


Arms folded,
forever standing short
against his handmade grandfather clock,
the junk man studies the movement
of its hands.

The pendulum breathes connections.
The front and back of the lower encasement trim
came off Ann Clough's bed.
Her husband bought it at an auction
in Iowa City before the Civil War.
The wood framing the top glass door
came from an abandon farmhouse
outside Cassville (or was that
the one-and-three-sixteenths inch
square blocks tacked across the top
above the clock face?)

"That's real nice lathe work on the sides there,"
remarks a shopper.

"Thanks! The case is 99% recycled waste,"
says the junk man.

The shopper marches out.
11:30 chimes the clock.

There is a decipherable ticking.