58 West

The road up here is convoluted,
turning back on itself
to go over the same ground.

But sometimes you choose
the long way, needing to
slow down, meander, and brood.

And if it takes an extra hour
to reach the coast by this route,
the time won’t be wasted.

On the four-lane across the desert,
you fade into the distance
with a heavy foot and an empty mind.

—Don Thompson

Don Thompson, currently the inaugural Poet Laureate of Kern County, is the author of numerous collections of poetry, including Back Roads (winner of the 2008 Sunken Garden Poetry Prize), Everything Barren Will Be Blessed, Local Color, and, most recently, A Journal of the Drought Year. He and his wife, Chris, live on her family’s farm where he continues to write about the Valley as he has been doing for over fifty years. Visit his website, San Joaquin Ink.