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Valley of Nine-Pipes

Columbia Falls, Montana, August 2006

In the valley of Nine-Pipes
A white-washed screen
At the Bearded Goat Drive-In
Pushes through prairie sedge
Like an eviction notice

A bloody sun sinks
Below the Hungry Horse
A ‘53 eggshell Ford
Motors into place like
Hoof-beats and frontier justice

Tonight’s feature
A hand-colored western
Shamefaced facades on a back lot
An unshaven desperado
The only one with a conscience

Kalispell has undergone a demoralizing, inevitable suburban sprawl
since I first visited in 1977. On the road to Columbia Falls is an
anachronistic Drive-In theater. On a marginal back-street in
Columbia Falls is a 1953 Ford with an eggshell blue paint job and no
rust. Maia wanted to buy it and tow it back to Minnesota so she’d
have a car to drive to high school. The Bearded Goat is reference to
mountain goats – the ones that seem to peer at us from a rocky
ledges wondering how soon humans will self-destruct. Nine-Pipes 
and Hungry Horse are pictorial names I like that are found south or
southwest of Glacier Park.