Sunday, 15 June 2014

The Edward Sebastian Rodgers Saga

This series of poems/prose were written around 2008/9 when I was heavily into poetry and explores The America Dream.

The Edward Sebastian Rodgers Saga Part I

He walked a measured mile,
stubbed his worn boots
on tarmac
buckled from last summers heat.

His head bowed
remembering his children
all grown up and overseas,
a wife who left him
for the wiles of another hombre.

There were times he sauntered,
but most times, a slow death waltz
stared him in his bearded face,
his clothes long worn and tattered.

He was destined to roam, no money
no home to speak of, the desert, the trees,
an igloo in the biting winter,
his insurance lost in the crash of 08.

He sees others too, mostly older men,
they stop and talk, not much, a few pleasantries,
a moment of association, a cuppa or two,
the children would chase them away.
Like his did.

Living in the heartland mattered, a difference,
animals that might or might not be hungry.
Like he always was.

The Edward Sebastian Rodgers Saga Part II

He ripped up the Forbes and Coltrane insurance cover,
let the wind carry his only hope in life
to flutter away in a deserted mining town.

The last breath in Knobsville
a sound of the sheriff driving off to LA,
the shuffle of destroyed feet its only commerce now,

the Guardians of Finance live in high mansions
where children have everything, yes toys too,
the lasting memory of the growing homeless,

lost on security and wealth, Exxon crashed, oil spiralled,
the cars few and far between, left rusting where they died,
sleep easies for vagrant men and women,

for teenagers looking for a chance in life,
the challenge of Rodgers’ legacy, his walk,
yes he too watched Forrest Gump in a movie.

The rights of the unworthy lost in democracy
failing under the pressure of lack of finance,
a lack of Government care and control.

The Edward Sebastian Rodgers Saga Part III

Teddy stands in the middle of Route 66,
no fear of traffic – no cars,
the sand blows around worn shoes
irritating the souls of his blistered feet,

he stands and reminisces, the fox hole
Luc Now province, South Vietnam,
the rustle of leaves as a Viet Cong unit
passed by their strongholds,
awaiting their passing, so the chase can proceed,

Sergeant Andy Gaitz indicates “five”
the signal in minutes before the assault was to happen,
at times like this, the loneliness, the waiting,
the realisation that Uncle Sam will look after him,
no matter the outcome.

He remembers the chase, thirteen dead,
all caught from behind and wasted with precision,
yes the Green Beret’s were a clinical unit,
this patrol 10 strong, the elite,
Uncle Sam will look after us when it’s over,
Dead or alive.

He remembered the home coming, heroes one and all,
medals for Africa, allowances paid,
and for most, that’s where it ended,
on the streets, hooked on drugs, devastated,
unable to work, unable to assimilate,
unable to carry on life in a normal manner,
yeah - Ok, the Vet hospitals helped,
but most suffered……….

The sound of an engine breaks his reverie,
A motorcycle, maybe a Harley, possibly Goldwing (Honda)
But a motorcycle nonetheless, and travelling fast,

He moves off the road, adjusts his sheepskin jacket,
the memory of his worthless life fading now, new hope,
then it’s gone, just the shrill wind off the Arctic ice
cutting everything in half and reassembling it,
he looks back up the road, tries to see what happened,
decides to walk in that direction, thinks effigy,
thinks eulogy, thinks how many times this has happened,
why he gets nowhere, as if there was anywhere to go?

The sun sets, five miles walked and no bike or biker,
that’s the key, the biker, another human being,
but the taste of dust and mesquite bushes impair,
he looks off the road too, nothing.

The Edward Sebastian Rodgers Saga Part IV

Like most of the side roads off the Route,
this one had no name,
what was the point anyway, just another dusty road
leading to nowhere in particular these days,

he’d chosen this one for it’s igloo,
parked in the middle of the road
a 1958 Dodge Suburban wagon,
the drivers and passenger windows
all smashed out, vandals he guessed,
but the important thing
the tray windows were intact
and offered some protection
from the icy grasp of winter coming.

He looked inside, found the leather seats rotten,
but in the back, a tattered army surplus blanket,
and gold at last, a mountain capable sleeping bag,
that he would keep.

Also gold in a way, two unopened tins of dog food,
and with a supply of dry firewood, and his Army Zippo,
a hot meal.

The night approached with the rising of the wind,
he couldn’t smell snow yet, but it was imminent,

the back of the Dodge was warm, warmer than out,
the sleeping bag and blanket a welcome haven,
Teddy still mulled over the motorbike,
hallucination maybe, hunger, or his PTSD?
It was times like these he needed the company of friends,
but he’d chosen this solitary life due to friends,
his wife running away with his best friend,
taking the children with her,
that was years ago now, but still the pain bit.

He took the photo out, the only one he had,
Emily and Jane, five and seven respectively,
kissed it for the umpteenth time, and wondered again,
though with each passing day, and each passing kiss,
the pain subsided.

He slipped the photo back into his patched up jacket,
and snuggled down to sleep, the first time in days.

The motor bike haunted his dreams,
as did the Big Macks that never came his way,
nor the Patrol Cars searching for lost souls,
his life lost in the vagrancy of disassociation,
and the passing of the seasons and life,
at least he dreamed, that meant REM sleep,
and when you spend time on the road,
that counts for everything.

The wind howled through the open windows,
voracious in it’s intent,
victorious to piles of bones,
venomous as the snakes that now proliferated,
it ate into the blanket, wrapped it’s talons
firmly around the sleeping bag,
but that’s as far as it got.

Teddy died for the night. To be reborn.

The Edward Sebastian Rodgers Saga Part V

It has been days since the Suburban igloo,
he’d managed to find a roll of snare wire
and a pair of pliers under the front seat,
a looters paradise, even the small amount
of Drum tobacco in the glove box meant a smoke.

He headed north east, following the Route,
wind driven sand covering the slick surface,
yes winter’s grip tightened, now he could smell
the ice whipped snow from the Arctic.

There were no tracks in the sand, just his loping gait,
and those of scurrying creatures and the odd snake.

He ploughed on, head down, ever alert for sound,
for any sign of human life, or larger game
that could provide a target for his Bowie Knife,
or smaller fare from the snare wire.

Then from the north, the grunting onslaught
of a diesel locomotive, hauling cargo maybe,
maybe even human cargo, the sound encouraging,
and then in his scan north he saw the letterbox he had passed,
back tracked to a shallow drive, covered in shells,

this indicated new, very new, though no tracks on the hardtop,
deserted perhaps, perhaps a store of food, perhaps power,
a shower maybe, a chance to change clothes
away from the bite of the killer wind.

Teddy walked up the drive, no sign of a house yet,
nor for that matter any buildings, a bonus though,
it took him closer to the railway, but that could wait,
first this discovery, this chance to live a bit longer,
he felt in his pocket for the Social Security card,
all that was useful for these days was slipping locks,
and then in his eyesight, to the left of the current path,
the building appearing from behind the tall cactus,
a rustic brown bungalow, probably twenty years old,
no sign of any vehicles, nor life, nor movement,
except for the wind generator plant flying in the breeze.

He passed what must have once been lawn, all burnt off,
giving way to desert, and the ravages of time and wind,
scattered here and there, broken toys, a sandpit,
he heard himself call out ‘anyone home’, lost on the wind,
and he called again as he closed in on the front door.

A quick hard solid knock, then a press of the doorbell,
the chimes inside rang loud, echoed in his mind,
the silence that prevailed indicated he was alone, still,
he did a trip around the building, the garage open,
another igloo inside, a Rav 4 by the looks, check it later,
and around the rest of the building, all secured.

Returning to the front door he slipped the lock,
and made his way inside, checking the lights as he did,
no power, but the house was warm, and long abandoned,
the dust settling on all the furniture, the floor,
no signs of rodent life or snakes, the floor derelict
as the day the owners had left for heavens knew where.

The pantry was empty, the fridge too, all cupboards bare,
he thought about survivalists, and searched for a basement door,
finally finding it in the laundry,
the stairs gave way to an expansive basement,
and a veritable goldmine, food, water, gasoline,
even clothes of a hardy nature, mostly womens,
though the male clothing to be found was of a similar size,
he quickly estimated there was at least a months food,
the water maybe two weeks, the gasoline, enough to drive
at least four hundred miles.

The wind generator supplied water through a bore,
enough to fill all the empty containers he could find,
It also powered the water pump in the house,
a chance to wash off months of grime, refresh,
before searching for the keys to the vehicle in the garage,
a quick check to ensure the phones were down,
then scurrying around until the keys were located,

he opened the car door, the fresh scent of a woman
toys in here too, on the back seat, a baby carrier,
a quick check of the glove box yielded another packet,
this time Lucky Strikes, only one missing,
he placed the key in the ignition slot, turned it,
and briefly life in the battery ran, the ignition catching,
he left it running as he made trips to and from the basement,
got more clothes from the main bedroom,
found a gun locker in the study, pried it open
and managed to lock and load a Remington .308
and ammunition for the big hunts to follow.

He left the rest for others who might follow,
Armed with his treasures, he drove off north east again.

He had a train to catch.

The Edward Sebastian Rodgers Saga Part VI

He’d travelled about two hundred and fifty miles,
the RAV 4 eating up the miles and dust,
his keen fifty nine year old eyes discerning no tracks,
life in this part of the world had definitely ceased.

He’d driven more northward, exiting the Route
and driving up General Grant Way, this one signposted,
and come across the two sets of train tracks
emerging from a frosty, mind numbing desert,
a shed stood next to the crossing, the door forced,
he’d set up a bivouac in the shed, leaving the RAV
facing east along the tracks, blocking the road,
that was thirteen days ago now, loneliness set in.

He’d moved the victuals, clothes and the Remington
into the shed, set up a mattress, made from mesquite and brush
and all wrapped in the army surplus blanket, from the Dodge,
the weapon always by his side,
as he took regular trips to check if the train was a dream.

It was nearing five in a windy acrid afternoon,
he bent to the tracks, ear placed on top listening,
then he heard it, the slow rumble, the tinkle of bogeys,
he guessed from the East, bent one more time to make sure,
the lights on the RAV four switched on pointing East,
he then climbed the ladder on the shed side,
laying the Remington on top, a torch ready,
and then he saw the diesel fumes filtering into the clear sky,
definitely from the East, and travelling very fast,

soon it was on him, the bright light opening the way ahead,
he waved, shouted, cajoled – but no sign of recognition
from the drivers in the cab, and then it was passed,
the cattle wagons flashing by with what looked like soldiers,
then he could see beyond them, the M1A2 Abrams Tanks,
and to his horror he saw a gunner turning his Canon,
turning it towards the RAV 4, and let loose with a hail of shells,
eating the life out of the SUV, as it burst into flames,
he was stunned, America was fighting Americans!

The train ran for a while, maybe a half mile long,
and disappeared into the West for God only knew what reasons,
the RAV 4 was totalled, a burnt shell, the smoke littering the sky,
and the sudden realisation he’d be walking again,
though there wasn’t much food left,
and he’d only carry that wasn’t worth eating.

Then it struck him again – American fighting American,
this was utterly preposterous, and very nerve wracking,
he’d have to be more careful in choosing his routes,
unless of course he died with the senselessness of it all.

He stayed another two days in the shed,
rescued handy tools and items from the charred shell,
then built a pack out of the blanket and scorched vinyl
to carry the sleeping bag, some food, and tools,
the Remington he shucked over the shoulder,
enough rounds in his pockets to cover a decent feed.

He still had a train to catch, but this time it was Shanks Pony,
the dust under his feet familiar, and the biting wind too,
friends from weeks ago, the Green Beret walked.

The Edward Sebastian Rodgers Saga Part VII

The signpost said “Pop 425”, a town with no name,
the five horses outside one of the buildings
indicated it was at least five today, in the very least,

he decided to skirt the south side of the small town,
passing centuries old bungalows and shacks,
a sign of the old west, barely held alive
by passing traffic and local Indians, (Navajo he guessed)

he skirted wide around the main street buildings,
careful not to make a noise or give away sign,
if they were Navajo, they’d be aware of him,
and that’s entirely not what he wanted.

In the middle of town where the horses stood
was a hotel, and he guessed where he was behind,
a hardware store (judging by the timber out back),
he saw the spade leaning against the back wall,
shuffled bent over to be hidden by the brush,
until exactly one hundred paces had transpired,
there he dug a hole, covered the pack and sleeping bag,

checking there was a round in the Remington,
walked back the way he came, placing the spade back,
just in case there were keen eyes around,
then he heard more shots, and the sound of hooves,
heading east to who knew where.

He waited until silence prevailed,
then walked up the alleyway to the main street,
glancing across to the hotel, the horses gone,
he daren’t cross the road until dark, just in case,
noticed the other store on the alleyway
was a grocers store, made his way back,
and forced entry into what he thought might be paradise,
however the front of the store was staved in, Ram Raid,
and the majority of the food taken, the rest perished,
he looked out across the street, Levitsville Precinct,
that’s where he needed to be, a radio maybe
a secure place to sleep the night, perhaps,
at least somewhere different and offering possibilities.

The wind had crept back to the north, cutting
the town of Levitsville succumbed to its biting gait,
ghosts and ghouls etching any living thing to pieces,
the dust on all the roads pushed along again,
the broken brush sweeping new footprints.
There was a radio, but no power or batteries,
but this was a scanner radio, Long Wave and Shortwave too,
Teddy pocketed it, as well as more .308 rounds,
prepared for war again, after all these years.

The drug store proved as empty as the Grocers,
equally ram raided and in total upheaval,
the medical centre yielded his desired prize,
four packs of AAA batteries. All fresh and new.

Long wave was barren, so he tried Short Wave,
a tractor beam on one frequency, saved to memory,
the rest empty, FM, AM, MW and Police channels,
he’d need a heavy army radio to crack the Defence network,
one this town did not have.

He took a risk, slept in the Jailhouse this night,
he needed to be comfortable for the long night ahead of listening,
then at four in the morning:

This is the Voice of America, broadcasting only to America, Earth has been hit by a huge radiation solar flare, most electronic communications devices and radios have been disabled by the flare. To avert panic, all people are to move to the nearest major city where help will be provided…...... and petrol supplies are hampered……… trains only, no private vehicles…………

The signal died. An answer?

In the morning, he decided, he would be heading due west – California.

The Edward Sebastian Rodgers Saga Part VIII

He’d been on the road for sixteen days,
when he came across the bodies,
survivalists, militia, it didn’t matter,
they were there,
and it reminded him of the tank.

A further five days and another bizarre incident,
walking hunched over from the cold,
and suddenly his head was ripped open,
the strong talons of a Bald Eagle, desperate,
his own dwindling food supplies meant more hunting,
and there was little game about, maybe too, the Eagle hungered.

The scanner had picked up a police or army side band,
he guessed LA, the scar on his head lost,
as the panic unfolded to his ears,
his immediate thought then to skirt south,
to a port town with a marina, a yacht,
to sail north into Canada, avoiding certain death,

He’d spent seven years prawn fishing in the Gulf,
and at times him and Billy would sail on Billy’s boat,
he knew the rudimentary basics, so felt comfortable.

That had happened a week ago now, the boat,
Scar Song (fitting) was a 30 foot keeler,
dressed in blue and white, with grey sails,
he’d deliberately gone miles north west first,
to avoid contact with authorities, just in case,
then once past LA and San Fran, north east,
towards Vancouver, and hopefully sanctuary.

The Navajo finally found his hole, the marks
they found his footprints too, the jailhouse,
the two stores, but too late to do anything,
they too had not heard of the current dilemma
only knew that folks had moved west,
they followed the footprints west, and found the carcasses,
they offered up a burial, such is their way.

The tank still haunted Teddy, but not as much
as the uncertainty of Canada,
at least they don’t kill each other (or do they?)

The Edward Sebastian Rodgers Saga Part IX

“Captain Sir, First Medical Officer Bryant here,”
a pause of a few seconds
“Come in John, you have a report?”
he entered the expansive cabin,
the biggest on the USS Mark C Dwayant,
a destroyer out of San Diego patrolling.

They’d come across the Scar Song
just before Canadian waters,
an “ahoy” failing to raise a reply,
a Navy punt had gone across.

“His name was Edward Sebastian Rodgers”
handing the captain the Social Security card,
“and there was this book with his last message”
passing the book with disdain.

“I lived for America, yet it broke my heart,

- in the end”

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