Tag Archives: Lost




When he said that he would lead the way, she meekly fell behind,
for to point out his meandering she felt would be unkind.
The luxuriant undergrowth clung to them in their passing,

the creeks they crossed edulcorating all they were amassing
in pants cuffs and in pockets: burrs and and leaves and pollen,
as he led the way through ditches and over trees fresh-fallen.

And though he seemed decisive, she knew that they were lost.
She followed to preserve his pride, but at what a cost?
Each quirky decision led them more astray
as she followed in his footsteps even though she knew the way.
When they finally reached their cabin, a shower, brush and comb
would eradicate the proof that they took the long way home!

Prompt words are luxuriant, decisive, quirky, edulcorate (to free or purify by washing) and leading. Photos by Joshua Woroniecki and Kurt Liebhaeuser on Unsplash.

And here is my favorite Tom Waits song, “The Long Way Home.”  Seems appropriate to include it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iCk-f03o6aA

Misplaced Meandering


Misplaced Meandering

I’m asking you who is not lost in this life––
which child or mother or husband or wife––
our direction determined by machines and signs
that know our direction, but not our designs?
I think I’d prefer a simpler way
where I could just drift through each hour and day
turning right at the blue house, then going by guesses
without Google maps or those damn GPS’s.

Remember when maps could be lifted and folded?
If you were berated, corrected or scolded,
your wife was the one who said you’d gone wrong,
not a voice from your dash interrupting the song––
“Long Way Home” on your player, crooned by Tom Waits––
as your TomTom says you’ve gone through too many gates.
No more do we lollygag, detour or amble.
We can’t program Garmin to dawdle or ramble.

Lost in our motor home, lost in our car
though we know precisely just where we are.
Lost in our lives, no direction our own
with nüvi on our dashboard and Waze on our phone.
They point us in their choice of route and direction
while never inquiring of our predilection
for scenery, museums, or byways or diners.
When spontaneity beckons, they are decliners.

Remember those trips when you were a kid
when your dad would pull over whenever you bid,
take off on a side road to see what was there
and wend this way and that way with nary a care?
Now that sort of journey is bound to excite me,
but to take off today with these systems to fight me?
The thought of their voices is bound to incite me
to turn them all off and scream, “You can just bite me!”


Lost in Iowa

Lost in Iowa

We are lost in Iowa,
pulled off the highway onto a gravel road.
Not content to give himself totally over to the control of GPS,
he checked its suggested route last night and instead devised his own.
But now, lost, without a clue as to where we are,
we have pulled over
to contemplate our situation.

I open the door to catch a breeze.
The yellow blooms of sweet clover and purple alfalfa
line the little road.
Wild anise and tall marsh grass
complete a scene
of perfect rural quiet and suddenly,
I am no longer lost.
I am back on the running board of my dad’s beat-up red pickup,
waiting for him to finish mowing the lower field.
I’ve eaten one chokecherry
from a nearby bush
and my mouth is puckered
by it’s astringent sting.
I go back sixty years
as I drink icy spring water
from my dad’s metal water can
wrapped in wet canvas
to keep it cool,
then jump back fifty years more
to my dad’s youth,
to try to imagine how he felt
with the prairie stretching hundreds of miles
in every direction.
My dad, his parents and two sisters in a two-room house.
There was privacy in the barn,
a dog for company.

Their closest neighbor
an ancient Hunkpapa Sioux named Charley
in his dugout house
half a mile up the draw,
town an hour’s ride away or more by horse or wagon.
With no diversion of cell tower or satellite dish—
there was only his family,
the land and his imagination.

My dad killing the coyote,
then finding her pups and bringing them home.
What would his dilemma have been?
Did he raise them,
then turn in their pelts for bounty?
Did he release them,
and then never know when he killed a coyote
if it was merely a pest or a former pet as well?

What did he think when he lay in a patch of clover?
Did he smell the wild anise and imagine
the sweet stickiness of licorice?
Did he pick the wild asparagus
for his ma to poach?
Did he have the idle moments
with which my childhood was filled?

What child now lies in the grass,
looking for something for his mind to rest against?
What other traveler,
lost on a gravel road in the scorching sun,
opens her door to a breeze
that flows like water down an empty creek channel,
looks up from the GPS screen
that promises to restore them
to civilization’s knowing?
Will she, as I have, relieve her lost present
by losing herself in the past?

That girl who sat on her dad’s running board
who would journey so far to unimagined places,
still travels the mind back to pleasures
of a world it was possible to be lost in,
sweet clover and wild anise
giving a taste of precious emptiness.

In this age of machines that can guide us
so surely into a  future,
where we are often so found
that we are lost in it—
savor those mistakes
that bring us back
to flounder in ourselves.

We, too, know the way.

daily life  color006

Dad with sleepy coyote pups on South Dakota farm, 1924

The Prompt: Wrong Turns—When was the last time you got lost? Was it an enjoyable experience, or a stressful one? Tell us all about it.

I am cheating and publishing here a poem I wrote on a trip two years ago.