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"Sprague" 

A poem by Thom Caraway, Spokane Poet Laureate

click to enlarge JACOB JONES
  • Jacob Jones

Stoplights and asphalt.
Six lanes and turn lanes, suicide
lanes and more stoplights.
On one side of the street, veterans
holding signs, on the other, slick men
hawking cars. You see pot holes
and blown reds, meat markets
and pawn shops. Few streets
define a town, but we have a heart,
north from south. There’s nothing
you can’t sell, can’t buy,
seed and flesh, sustenance,
shelter, salvation.

///

Blast-cut basalt, exposed hexagonal piers. The gravel that
remained—crushed and made into road. Out on the West Plains
—jack rabbits and coyotes, reminders of Spokane’s wilderness
past. High water table means spring ponds means ducks means
my father on his deck at sunup every morning, binoculars in one
hand, bird guide in the other, enthusiasm like a child as the
ducks return—teals, wood ducks, green-headed mallards. Some
call it quits, make his deep water pond their home forever. He
builds them shelter, keeps them fed all winter.

///

We travel so many roads and arterials—veins.
Always between here and there, every way
the way to someplace else.

///

Through industrial parks and the run-down.
Past everything we show out-of-towners. The Davenport,
the Bing and Fox. The city’s bright past and restored now.
It’s all Sprague.

///

On final approach, if you know the details to pick out, you’ll see
the whole sweep, asphalt shining and steaming in sun after rain,
the bright ribbon of our long heart, barrier and bridge. When you
land, you’ll know which way is home.

See the whole Sprague Avenue project here.

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