Remember Me To Julian

Remember me to Julian McNickelbaker,
the high-wire equestrian from Trash Dump, Wisconsin.
If you're ever in Trash Dump,
having landed via sea plane with a load of 

Supplies in the middle of a hundred-year flood,
make sure to look for Julian.
Check his trailer at the mobile home park.
(Ask Judy, at the rental office, which one is Julian's.)
Scout out Super Burger and Sunview Lanes,
where I once beat him at bowling 154-132.

Stand for a moment inside the post office,
and check the photograph I gave you against those on the wall. 
And, of course, go out to the horse boarder,
and look there--look around--look up!
If you brought an apple, toss it as high as you can.

Julian McNickelbaker was the foremost high-wire equestrian
in the southern Wisconsin division for seven years running.
You should have seen the "wires" we used,
which were actually a weave of tungsten, New England hemp, and local sod.
You could have walked an African elephant out there,
with bowling balls in a bag on his back. 

I said--while balancing on one foot, 50 feet in the air, on horseback,
in front of a crowd of almost two thousand--
"I love you, Julian McNickelbaker," and I did, at that moment.
But later, he was angry, disappointed, 
and I wanted a drink rather badly but was 10 years sober,
and too proud to have to face anybody after.

I left that night, on a Greyhound bus,headed to Racine.
I didn't see a horse again for days, just cows,
and I stayed right on the ground like skittish schoolgirl. 
For years after, I suffered from vertigo and impetigo,
slept with no one and read about ten thousand trash novels.
But Racine boasts many splendors.

Tiring, at last, of Petrifying Springs Park,
I made my way to Wind Point Lighthouse.
It has a light bulb inside a Fresnel lens, placed there by angels
or the Parks Department or some other soul weary of shadows.
The keeper, who does not operate the light (it's automated),
and is there mostly to foil graffiti artists,

Approached me and confiscated my can of spray paint.
She could see that I was having a "moment."
"Do you want to go bowling?" she asked me. 
Gosh, it had been a long time.
"Yes. I'd like that," I said. I stopped staring at my shoes then,
tilted my head back and gawped, 
all the way up the spiral stairs to the top of the light.



Other Mary said…
I have see the many splendors of Racine in the flesh.
Sherry Blue Sky said…
A wonderful tale - though i fear for the horses, up so high. It is wonderful one does not forget such things as bowling, and the hopefulness of accepting invitations.
Fireblossom said…
Other Mary--may I touch the hem of your garment?

Sherry--not to worry. they are just metaphorical horses. it saves on hay.
Other Mary said…
Hahaha - yes, but you'll want to wash your hands right after.
Anonymous said…
First of all I love the way this poem reads... dizzying in its reality while I'm trying to imagine the surreal idea of a high wire equestrian. Super!
Sanaa Rizvi said…
Whistles!!💘 This is absolutely phenomenal, Shay!!💘
hedgewitch said…
"But Racine boasts many splendors..." That line just kills. Only you could envision this quirky circus act, with horses daintily tripping the high wires while the narrator performs death-defying feats for an uncaring egotist. I am glad she hopped it to Racine and met someone who really cared about bowling. And the ending is perfect, 'blinded by the light,' as it were. I adore your travel stories for girls.
Cloudia said…
New power and endurance, eh, Shay?
Kerry O'Connor said…
Ah, Shay. From your first lines, I knew a story was about to unfold and what a rich narrative it is - one to make the reader weep and laugh for joy and sorrow both.
tonispencer said…
Oh I like this a lot. The splendors of Racine...bowling and high wire equestrian acts. This tale of yours made me smile this morning and yes, made me laugh out loud. Maybe you need to plan your next trip to Chapel Hill NC. Now that place has splendors galore - biscuit eatin' jugglers, book totin' Yankees, and refugees from Durham dressed in LL Bean and Goodwill special blue tags 50% off.
Timoteo said…
Ahhhh...haha...your sense of whimsy is outdone only by your flair for irony. My eyes light up whenever I click on thy name!
tonispencer said…
PS I just followed your blog. Sorry that I write haiku but that is how I roll - 17 syllables - bumpty bump!
brudberg said…
I have to say that it's the first time that I've hear about Racine, but this summer I spent a night in Gäddede, a place very few Swedes have heard about
De Jackson said…
For me, "Gosh, it had been a long time" is the crux of this. Since she's been bowling. Since someone cared enough to ask her what she wanted.

I loved this journey.
Anonymous said…
I have never heard of Julian either. But found your tale intriguing. (the ending is remarkable)
Sioux Roslawski said…
Shay--Wow. This makes me wonder which tidbits are true and which are bits of stuff from years of reading and research and which ones are pure fantasy...
Marian said…
This is great, and really does invite the reader to imagine all that is not described here. Like, did he let you keep your wheat paste? Was the impetigo resolved? ;) I mean, it had been a long time. I hope your protagonist bowls more often now.
Dani H said…
it is as i feared... retirement has done the impossible and made you even better, my dear. god save the queen!