Just out of Pflugerville

On State Highway 79 North


After a visit with my dad’s cousin, Lefty,

Who now lives on the edge of suburban Austin

In a nice cool rock house with his daughter

Wilma and grandkids all around


Lefty Beckner, born on the homestead in New Mexico

Raised on a dryland bean farm like my dad

A farm boy moved to town where he ran

Farmers Feed and Seed Store and then cared for the cemetery

Until his legs “give out.”


On Highway 79 we drive south.

At Thrall, old front porch farm homes

Nestle in live oak groves surrounded by

Light green September fields of coastal Bermuda

Still growing with the rains that temper a burning land,

Dotted with dark cylinder mounds

The last hay unsold in heaps of mildewed waste


Wasted like Rodenbeck Farm and Ranch Supply

In Milano – rust – broken windows and fallen doors

Wasted, like the abandoned milo maize

Grain elevators allowed to crumble at Thorndale


Tall weeds bloom tips yellow, and an

Overgrown sprawl fills the swells

Of lost ground.


A Super Wal-Mart at Rockdale

Nearby little vacant green farmhouses on stolen hills

Wait for demolition and development


“Anger Management” says the sign

On a banner above a vacant downtown store in Hearne

Across the way, on the corner

Where once a busy hotel bustled with cotton buyers and shoe salesmen

A two-story police station now lingers


Gone down this lonesome road

Another town square busted by big box corporations

Gone down this wild oak grapevine tangled wilderness

In every vale along the creeks

Rich black land unplanted, untended


Entering Robertson County along the Brazos where once

White cotton fields rolled in rows

Chemical tanks and towers now line the road.


A stately, paint-faded, white-boarded grey

Plantation home decays on the edge

Of thousands of acres of slave bottom land


And two black jockey statues stand

Out in front holding their reins

Out to the master’s hand


At the Baptist Church near Bryan

A sign in plastic black letters

Reads, “God is coming 4U.”