Hebo, Oregon

First you dreamed you cut my hair

then made me watch some video of a Russian

cutting a woman’s hair with an axe—

so, what exactly are you trying to tell me?

And when I looked up what does it mean

to dream of cutting someone’s hair

there were only dumb-ass ideas about loss of power

and a lazy conflating with Delilah,

furthermore, these interpretations were for dreams

where a person cuts their own hair

which I have heard used as a metaphor

regarding why we writers need an editor,

or it’s like cutting your own hair—

though in dreams, the editor sleeps.

On this topic, I brooded, and nothing satisfied me

because I was awake while others dreamt.

And in my insomnia, I turned to read up about Hebo, Oregon

population 213, most with a HS degree or higher,

widely white, some mixed, not poor, not rich except in sunsets,

median age is 73.4, which makes us all young and only 23.9%

feel bad about themselves says the website

I’m reading all this information from

(who the hell compiles these things!)

most skew straight and in Hebo lives a single sex offender

who cries at night, where others see his light on;

I made that one up but not the fact that

gums are mostly healthy here, elevation is 77 feet

the commonest names are George and Helen,

sleep averages 6.8 hours and with each sunrise

comes the promise of a new day; news is brief and terse

from Happy Hollow and almost the same number (89.4%)

are married as don’t go to any damn church

since they see god daily in the fields and hollows,

the wind over the fields like a great hand;

very few come from anywhere and fewer still want to leave.

business is mainly retail and none of yours.

And you might ask what am I to Hebo? Or he to me

(if cities are men) my own sister doesn’t know

why we were born here, in Oregon, it seems the oddest place

for broody, over-intellectualized Jews

stateless Livaks who fled Mother Russia,

(a nation that’s for sure a woman)

where they show the videos of successful axe

hair stylists but keep the unsuccessful ones

in a government vault. Why end up here

we who average 3.2 sleepless hours a night

over what dreams really mean?

So, sis packed off to a pied-à-terre in NYC

while you and I fly through Hebo

until I said stop and what was that

and we did stop, since I was the driver and backed up

to a dusty drive where 73.4-year-olds walk

purposefully out in full sun to get the mail,

we rolled all the way back, looking this way and that

because I’d seen a farm stand

inside the open gate of a brown old barn

with an ox red door where wild flowers, foxglove, tassel rue

and black-eyed Susan bloomed in the bed

of a Radio Flyer, next to a gold wicker chair

with a white embroidered pillow as a seat

and a table with cloth of blue and purple pears

holding a porcelain metal tub, the kind with an ink black rim,

full of more flowers such as common yarrow

deep pink farewell-to-spring and neon green hairy manzanita

all beside a wind and rain weathered

metal shed and a dangling sign that said Pie

said Fruit said Summer said No Childhood but this One

Keep Dogs in Vehicle because heaven needs dogs and cars intact.

We got out of our dog-less car in a dream

of Hebo, off highway twenty-something,

I didn’t have all the statistics at hand then

but could tell we had brought the population to 215

and the Jewish population to 2. Sure, we wanted pie

but so much more was at stake. Inside the barn a delicious

coolness prevailed and pay was on the honor system

a system broken down in the rest of the country then

but as alive in Hebo, as you and I, staggering under the beauty

of a brown barn on a country road, in sunlight, before fields

of such green and living grasses as our sleep is composed of

when we are in the dream of metaphor,

where we have mind-built a world, as Auden says, “exactly to our liking.”

On the table were baskets of berries, some black as a bear eye

others red as his maw. There were green cartons of beans

and salmon that had a day before been swimming in blunt

survival and would survive, on our tongues. Behind the table

stood a woman who looked like a woman, curved as nature

with a round, open, smiling face and I had to tease her,

saying: I am only here to monitor the pie purchases

which made her laugh, because yes, that is a woman’s job

and I would have said anything to make her laugh again.

She had on a pretty top and a prettier skirt, even though no one

goes to church in Hebo; yet the church comes to them, Sunday

at the farm stand, in a revelation of first fruits.

You gazed hungrily at pies in which the calorie count

was high, but then again so was the love.

And we wanted to buy everything: the yarrow,

the berries, the tracks where a dog lay

outside the car, the old baler leaned onto wood,

the blouse of the woman

her laugh, which was a full body itself, her eye shine

the empty pews in her, the honor system, the wind

that waved the foxglove in stately nods

as if we had all the money in the world

as if our median income was infinite as stars.

Now you think I will return to that hair

since all illogic is circular

and don’t worry I am going to

but the beauty of that farm stand had not cleared in me like a check

but bounced along with us for miles. I took

and posted a picture but inside me was another picture

in berry-stained voice, that showed we do belong here, sister,

because we are all strangers, all of us emigre

to Oregon as Montaigne said of some monks “they are in the world

but not of it” I don’t even know if it was Montaigne,

but it sounds like him, all of us temporary on the land

of peoples who deeply understood no ownership survives

only fields feed, winds nourish,

nature kills, revives and dissipates and returns,

I take everything for granted at the same time I know it will vanish

on that valance, I stake my life, on the analyzable dream.

Before sleep, moments run through my fingers like grain in a silo

and I keep Hebo running in the background,

which takes up a great deal of power

And sister, who is city as they come

represents berries in my half-dream of her red-vamped heels,

in her jewels, which are actually her eyes

(don’t tell her that) and the pert snap of her words

that bring a delicious coolness to our fevered romance

gallerist, moralist, bleak Jewish beauty

of the diaspora, which means to scatter seeds

who is a much more careful driver

and secret chronicler of all original twinship

Not one to stop in a spray of gravel

on the empty, suspicious roads here or ever

yet stands in ruined dreams beside my memory of the farm stand

everyone hopes will be attended by good Christian folk

but instead get crashed by tossed Jews who read


rolling under night covers, saying, love, I am

trying to understand the world’s deadly beautification,

so that I might stop rolling this open road

and sleep, which sis said takes out the day’s garbage

but in motes reveals the single near-invisible strand

against the inevitable and most final timbre of the axe.

Copyright © 1999 – 2019 Juked