Letter to Mike from Mankota | Gregory Stapp

Gregs Photo

Dear Mike, Everything
here is in the past tense and comes
in small doses, a place where all things new,
present or large are considered quaint
curiosities for the old to stare at while making
their morning rounds down forlorn streets,
wishing things could go back, would go back,
back to the past, the way things were.
In a time when none of us knows anymore
what greatness means, or honor, and we stand
toe to toe with idiots like ourselves, maybe
the past is the best way to go – safety in false
memory and nostalgia. I remembered on the drive
through the mountains how good it was to be twenty,
the leap between stones and over boulders with pines
dancing in the wind, the rush of air spooling
off the mountain, and the urgency of the Colorado
coursing past our house. The river left us
lithic, washed-against. On the way out
to Mankota, I didn’t detour to Pony after all,
the town I’ve dreamed of for years now,
because Hugo loved it, but I can’t go there,
not now, there’s nothing left but the silt
of Hugo’s dream, the dust of dead streets.
Every street here is a dream. Nine dreams
you can walk down freely, forgetting things
like sidewalks, intersections or stoplights. I sit drinking
coffee to the sunrise and the dew on my feet
knowing what every fool knows – nothing’s
as good as you thought it would be,
and greater than it first appears. Here I sit
where I longed to be – in the middle of a town
that can no longer breathe and wishing I was out on the hill.
Give my best to Sarah and hold on
to everything. Love, Greg

Gregory Stapp is a graduate of the University of Oklahoma, where he worked for the Carl Albert Center Congressional Archives, was a Puterbaugh Fellow in World Literature, and won the Tomas Rivera Student Writing prize in Short Fiction. His poems have appeared in World Literature Today II, qarrtsiluni, Cuento Magazine, and Eunoia Review. He lives in Oklahoma and pines for Colorado.

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