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5 North

Between Los Angeles and Oakland, 
there was snow on the grass-covered mountains,
which made a strange pattern, like brushstrokes
on paper. Then the mountains gave way
to the flatness of farms. At a rest stop near Fresno, 
a beautiful woman spat into a cup. Orange trees 
blurred into feedlots. The sheep weren’t
upsetting but the cows were horrific, acres 
of them behind concrete walls. They slept, 
resigned to their pens. Across the road
were several withered rows of almond groves.  
And a sign, congress created the dust bowl
Wind cut through the valley, pushed the trucks 
toward the median. For a while, I felt guilty,
and then the feeling lifted. 

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Published: June 6, 2024