Sunday, April 16, 2017

California Copacetic

This daguerreotype exists from 1839
before he grew his whiskers long to keep
the gnats from gnawing on his face.

You can see that tarnished edges frame
a dashing silhouette, emerging evidence
adumbrating rougher cuts of cloth he’d wear

and yet in this moment, still unaware his life
begets a certain curiosity a century or so
beyond the capture of this image.

What options does a man consider when
accusations—bogus bunk—are made?
A murder (he did not commit) might

land a man in dank detention until a noose
should stretch his neck to snap! Avoiding
bombastic court proceedings at all cost

was deemed the most judicious course
to take, and so John Adams slung a stippled
shotgun over his shoulder and moved on.

He gave up fitting boots and shoes to
East Coast women’s most elegant hooves
and absquatulated before the Boston Watch

could bring him in for questioning. He’d head
out west. A multitude of men—49ers—might
increase his chances of reaching the Sierra

Nevada range under cover of anonymity.
Once there, alone and fragile as a foundling,
John Adams would begin to build the necessary

wits and skills to start his life anew. And here,
our story takes a familiar turn for children
of the 1970s who begged to watch The Life

and Times of Grizzly Adams before bed. The real-life
mountain man was dead at 48. (We’d thought
he’d live forever.) I like to think of him alive still,

becoming old and grizzled (much the way we all
succumb to age) with his receding hairline and
Geritol, unroofed—perhaps—but not unhinged,

enjoying retirement in worn, well-fitted boots
without a care in the world to bring him down 
from his mountainside cabin.

I imagine he’s up there now,
sipping a cold one  from a local brewery
and feeling very California copacetic.

Written during the CV2 2-Day Poem Contest, April 16, 2017 using the words:  daguerreotype, begets, bunk, dank, bombastic, stippled, absquatulated, foundling, unroofed, copacetic.


  1. Ahh ... I don't have to wait for you to wander by Fanstory now. Love this. mikey

    1. Hi Mikey! Thanks so much for popping by! Do you have a blog that I need to check out?!


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