Tire Chains & Longing

descending Donner
my mind is occupied by
tire chains and longing

This is the title poem from my first published collection of haiku, senryu and tanka, Tire Chains & Longing. I wrote this haiku after crossing the infamous Donner Pass in a heavy snowstorm, heading out of Reno, NV, towards Sacramento, CA. The highway was so snow covered that the California highway system required that I put six sets of tire chains on my truck for the long descent into California’s Central Valley. All of my thoughts revolved around hoping that the chains did their job of maintaining traction and wishing that I was home with my lovely wife, Song. From a Zen perspective, this poem is about not paying attention, about forgetting the essential practice of mindfulness, about not being in the moment one bit.

When I was in my early twenties, I took a job driving coast to coast. The obligations of marriage and fatherhood required that I work much closer to home, so I gave up road life after a year of rambling and roving. While my youngest was in grad school, I realized that I was able to get back out on the road and experience our vast country in its totality from the cab of a rather plush tractor trailer rig. And I did just that for a year.

Tire Chains & Longing is a collection of my impressions of life on the road, the experience of being a wanderer, and the meaning of home. A lot of them describe traveling the I-80 corridor and central and Southern California. What would make me most happy is that you read them and become inspired to get an actual road atlas, drop the GPS and Google maps, and go find your own adventures in this vast and beautiful country of ours, or whatever country you have the good fortune to live in. Beauty and adventure are everywhere, waiting for you to discover them.


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