Dogs 2005

SALTED NUTS
(12/14/05)


reaching
into my desk today
for a bag of salted nuts
to tide me over to lunch
on this cool
and sunny
December morning
I got a flash
of another
such morning
almost exactly
20 years ago

then
driving up I-29
in western Iowa
the thought of where
I was coming from
and where I was going
became a bit
overwhelming
and deep
in a hangover
I took
the next exit
to a small farm town
a couple of miles
off the interstate

I knew
these towns
fairly well
always a bar open
on a weekday morning
a darkened refuge
I guess
to settle one's nerves
before resuming
the farming
chores

I found a place
and was ushered in
by the sun and fresh air
a few quizzical looks
from the two
apparent retirees
perched on stools
and the
50-something woman
behind the bar

I ordered a draft
not really sure
if it would
stay down or not
took a tentative sip
and surveyed the bottles
and memorabilia
behind the bar

to my right
was a display stand
containing an assortment
of bagged nuts
so I grabbed
some roasted peanuts
thinking that
a bit of food
could only improve
my faltering
condition

no one
asked me
where I was from
although I'm sure
that they knew
I wasn't
from around there

I sipped
and crunched
my way to stability
a second beer
beginning to warm
rather than worry
me

the third beer
improved my spirits
to the point I thought
of resuming my journey
to the norther tier
of Minnesota

I put a five
on the bar
nodded my head
and exited
in silence
feeling good
for the first time
in days

I could use
that feeling today
as I munch
on dry soy nuts
swilling them down
with bottled water
basking in the rays
of a CRT

a bit
of the old warmth
would be welcomed
right now
but I don't know
how much I'd like
the subsequent trip
on which that
form of warm
would take me

it would end
in a place
much colder
than any
Minnesota
winter