Craig Wisner

The Path to No-Name Hermitage.

(Written in the style of my masters)

The path to No-Name Hermitage is steep

and winding

but is easy enough to find

Just follow the deer tracks

bear scat

and chattering mountain squirrels


Follow them up and away

far from city lights-

weaving through pine and manzanita

beneath the eyes of crows

and beside moss-covered rocks


Clouds hang on the peaks above

golden light spreading

on the heads of oaks

in the valleys below



Find No-Name Hermitage

and you’ll want to stay, too

If while descending the canyon

the melodies of an untuned flute

and the smell of woodsmoke

are in the air

you’ll know an old poet

is home

at his woodstove

above the stream



He may eat your food*

if you’re not careful

and his little dog is mean

but he’s quiet

and harmless

and would be happy

to share his wine



He talks to ghosts

beside the fire

mumbles to ancestors

and animals

writes a line or two

in his book-

Always trying to remember

what he’s forgotten

trying to unlearn

what he already knows


If you see his wife and children

in the market or shops below

tell them he loves them

he’ll be home soon-

he just has to sit a little longer

has to make sure

that the stream is still flowing

that the mists still gather

and drip from the trees


*Upon arriving in camp, I find a cache of food inside the woodstove.  A half-opened can of refried beans, a bag of small potatoes, a can of some sort of carrot soup, and a roll of aluminum foil.  As is so common in these parts, I assumed the food was left as trash from the night before.  Come evening I cracked the can of carrots and started roasting potatoes…

About an hour after dark I hear voices, see headlamps descending into the canyon.  I’m soon blinded as they discover me at camp.  They’re shocked they’re not alone.  In a sheepish voice, one says:

“Uh…did you see some food left here?”

My response from the darkness, as I’m holding back my snarling dog:

“I ate it.”

They look intimidated.

Disappointed whispers from the one in back:

“Dude, that was all our food…”

“Oh, I didn’t eat it all.  Just two potatoes and half the can of the carrot stuff.  I checked the beans but they didn’t look good.”


“The rest of the food is there, take it.  Sorry, but I had no way of knowing you were coming back.  A lot of people leave trash like this.”

“Fair enough.” one says in defeat.

They gather what’s left of their food and walk off with their tails between their legs.  I gave them a package of ramen and miso.

I laughed about this all night.  Poor kids.





One response

  1. michael

    Oh, bravo, that’s good. This is the story you saved for a personal telling. I’m picturing a setting from The Road, without the violent desperation.

    December 22, 2015 at 1:56 pm

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