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Thick and green, the hills rise
on each other's shoulders.


High ridges disappear in fog
make me wish I was born of water.


At the divide, I taste the cool ocean air,
the way a deer finds a salt lick,


and roller coaster down a narrow road
that does not believe in a straight line.


Blackberry vines
crawl through barbed wire fences.


Small towns occur like a whim.
As if in a coma, they merely survive.


I tune in the only station
and listen to country western.


Static gradually drowns the singer out.
Rounding a corner, he pops to the surface


for another breath,
simply to sink back still singing.


Fir shadows lace the road.
Bracken cascades embankments.


At the next curve, a farmhouse is half finished--
boards weathered raw. Chickens roost in a gutted Chevy.


Scattered among these hills, families
rely on small private lumber mills,


the disability or unemployment check,
the killing of an out of season elk.