Everyone moved slowly at the Rapid City Diner
The bar tender wiped the countertop with a wet rag
leaving streaks of damp
that did not dematerialize in the heavy air
You know there is never a girl in these stories.
I know, Sam accepted the home brew
With appreciation born of deprivation
I thought it would be more sincere
With the girl
The beer foamed over the mug
Sam wiped his mouth and laughed
More often the RV residents tried to walk the rest of the way
fallen along the high mountain roads
Bring Out Your Dead she whispered
They wintered in airplanes
That’s what Sam liked to call it – wintering.
The sky was so fierce that she named it the Time
of Abandoned Gods
The Travel Gods, the Train Gods, the Grass and Growing Gods
Those hide underground.
Like snakes Sam said.
Of course they weren’t the only ones in line for the planes
A big woman with wild hair in row 16 asked about her.
No, a rescue. Ah, sleeping with her?
Sam shook his head.
The woman eyed the slender girl. She was old enough.
Sam looked at the sky instead of the wild hair
I am not tempting her gods.
So he and the woman went in the back.
Vision of the street. As the street hardly knows.
He called himself the Drummer
since that’s where the first terror gang found him
what were the choices?
Boys wilding in the center of the country, taking on
anything that moved – Goblins; they made the best story
Already the enemy. The terror gangs attacked.
They titled it the great train robbery
The Drummer posted the video on creaky You Tube
It never made money
so the Corporation never bothered to take it down.
The Mother God,
The girl explained to the men in the long light of spring
has to stay with us, must care for us
which is why she is the mother.
which is why she must be a god.
Her logic, impeccable; the beer, helpful
The desperate men nodded and gave them both
If you are abandoned. The girl continued
the Mother God will protect you.
Like a foster mom. One man said.
Yes, she agreed, not knowing what that meant
It didn’t matter; she and Sam were safe for another night.
By reasonable deduction
The rest of the gods were angry gods
I will find out why. She said.
Sam helped her down the muddy banks of the Missouri river
She scrambled and tried to imagine enough water
to wake and drown
Yes, find out
the names of the gods, ask around.
A trained roared overhead.
Cries of the Goblins mocked them from above.
He always tried to stuff her backpack with food
Cans of chips, ding dongs the stuff that survived in the Chevron stop
the notebooks took up too much room.
No, I will carry the stories, leave the cans.
The Preacher still danced on the graves of the wicked
The wicked! The wicked did perish!
I told you all so! He danced and danced a round, spinning dance
The girl drew up as she watched,
the ground shifted, the preacher stumbled,
Sam threw out a warning arm
She pulled up to her full height, taller by much more than when they began
he noticed with astonishment.
The Preacher fell into the dust and rocks.
All the voiceless women, she whispered
the stoned, the burned, the buried, the raped
How do you know the wicked?
Because they are gone!
The howl danced from his lips and was caught up in a train whistle.
What was that?
The Goblins travel much faster.