Phone Call from a Movie Set Somewhere in Kansas by Pat Daneman

My son is learning at last everything I never taught him.10885210_10203995076012065_23950373450041338_n

He’s learning to do whatever he’s told by anyone

whose job it is to order up the impossible:

Tomorrow, David, it must not rain.

This Indian, David, he is six inches too tall.


He woke up one night standing outside a Best Western motel,

an old woman slapping him with a pillowcase,

scolding him in Spanish with motherly consternation.

He said he needs to learn Spanish.

And carpentry. So many things have to be built.

Difficult things that do not exist. A device for spitting

tobacco into someone’s face, for example.

A house that falls down.


He sent me a postcard, he said. Sent his father a postcard. His grandfather a postcard.

To his own mailbox hanging empty at the door of his empty apartment he sent a postcard

of a rampaging mare he found wedged in the mirror in the toilet of a Texaco station

near Cottonwood Falls. It is his calling to find things; his station

in the underground maze where all the circuitry hums.


He told me a Kiowa girl wrote a poem on his arm with a coyote tooth. A ghost

wrote a song in the dust on the hood of his car. His car wouldn’t start

and Queen Bey stepped down from a red pickup truck, from her parapet

of sixty years and skin like hammered copper and blues

and jazz in all the cities of Europe to touch his face

with a varnished fingernail, give him a Diet Coke and a ride.


On an undulating plain at purple dawn he found a cowry shell grimed with ocean salt.

A herd of bison rose like a swarm of locusts to consume a hilltop; beat a cloud

from their hooves that changed the color of the sky.


Nothing is lost, but so many things have to be found.

~ Pat Daneman

(Published in Inkwell, Spring 2008)
Pat Daneman has lived in Lenexa, Kansas since 1986. Recent work appears in The Moon City Review, I-70 Review, Bellevue Poetry Review, and The Comstock Review. Her chapbook, Where the World Begins, is forthcoming from Finishing Line Press. She is poetry co-editor of Kansas City Voices magazine.

Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg, guest editor for Dec., is the 2009-13 Kansas Poet Laureate, author or editor of 19 books, and founder of Transformative Language Arts at Goddard College, where she teaches. More on her here.


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