Driving from Slocan

Route 6 relentlessly drags me south,
leaving Slocan in its unmade bed.
My back feels the Valhallas’ judgment,
their silent sermons shake holy books
for approaching calamities.

I drive and Townes reflects from the back seat:
“Seemed easier than just a-waitin’ ‘round to die”
Driving; the ever curves on 6 pan sifting memories of you . . .

You wait for your last good day’s end,
the last barn dance with Vancouver kin,
who grind out pulp tunes from your daddy’s flatbed.
The bar plays out as tired music in the yard repeats, recedes,
and you fall asleep in the straw

I drive and Townes mourns in the distance:
“It’s two long years, just a-waitin’ ‘round to die.”
Driving; the Crows’ Nest Highway has no mercy, only memories of you . . .

You wait high in the Boundary heat for a friend,
the afternoon updrafts carrying lazy promise;
guitar, notebook, cold bottles of Kokanee to hand
A boom and you turn; your friend leaves the mountain,
driving to perdition in the canyon 500 meters below.


The stacker is choked on contorted pine,
an alarm sounds in the mill’s chaotic din
You wield the hook that would undo the wreck,
but the wreck has come for you with all its torments

We drive, the Boundary Country behind us, Townes in our throats:
“Together we’re gonna wait around and die”
Driving; south, to Washington.


Jason Stelzner


Photo source: “gloriosomoss”