Johnny Opiumm’s Visions of Love Shovel

             High up in the pined mountains, near miles to the continental divide, there is a high altitude meadow watered by a glacerial stream. And just before some towering rocky cliffs, a shadowed northern valley murmurs a trickling creek; playing a nature tune.

            There is a buried rusty shovel, a square shovel, which has been hidden under the high grass and a lilac hedge for more than twenty years. And upon times recent, the cowboy bunkhouse has been howling poetry up at the luminous moons. For the past few seasons, when the sun has just begun to descend earlier in the sky, men and women of all ages and hair lengths have circled under an aspen grove to write on paper and converse why doing so.

            The shovel has seen nothing and all. The red-tail hawk nests in a tall pine up on the western slope. She soars out over the valley before perching on an oak. “A gathering of the most beautiful people,” she recalls to the shovel. “Fat and slim, clean and dirty, white and black; they all looked into each other’s eyes.”

            And off again she flies while the shovel remains. Soon after, when the sun is drawing long shadows, the ground vole sniffs his way threw the green, green grass. “Were they laughing or crying?” he peers up to the cloudy blue sky. “They hugged, and clapped, and snapped fingers.” A bird call runs him off again. Shadows darken and the shovel grows cold – so does the conglomerate rock. The clouds blow over and all the stars and planets shine bright – the Milky Way.

            “String music and whiskey water,” the rock sighs, “lasted all week long.” The shovel huffs a laugh.  “Freedom,” the shovel laughs. “Individual freedom; their own voice!”

            And the misquotes bizz and the black bear slumbers along the creek. The deer, in pairs and antlered, cross the valley. And the moose stands tall on the dirt road.

The Beyond Academia Free Skool’s Summer Poetry Camp is going on up at Love Shovel Ranch in Nederland, CO,  July 12-20th 2015.  Go to, listen to this interview, or read this preview article for more information.

Contributor Johnny Opiumm has been part ofThe Boulder Poetry Scene since around 2011.  He is a beardy mountain man who’s lived at, partied with, and received education from Love Shovel Ranch.

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