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Twenty Six Miles



  I was born on the seaward side
of the Santa Lucia mountains
a meandering wildlife trail
that over time came to know
the feel of barefoot nomads
the heel of the Conquistador
trod upon
by sandalled men of God
the boots and sturdy shoes
of prospectors kicked up my dust
and wheels
every conceivable kind
ran over me - carts buckboards
wagons coaches
filled with enterprising men
hauling out loads
of the lumber and lime
that built San Francisco
by then I was a road

graded - widened…
a rutted rural route
sent miles inland at each steep ravine
travelled, but only of necessity
taken on as a "make work" project
the WPA paved the way
bridged the gaps
the magic done at Bixby Creek
put me on the map
Highway 1
a useable thoroughfare
to the North to the South
tourist slowing for vista and view
holding up locals going to work
"Pull over ya jerk!"
wayfaring strangers
in hermetically sealed contraptions
once removed now
from each other
the open air and me

but wait
once a year
the Big Sur Marathon is run
footfalls set my heart pounding
for the better part of a day
the stream of traffic is halted
a plethora of pedestrians
come running
down this twenty-six miles of history
each one becoming
an integral part of me
    - Ric Masten  


  Later-down the road a piece
Somewhere far from that
Misty morning at Big Sur
The crowd rippling with excitement
Then the gun-and you begin the run
Effortless at first
Graceful curves-easy straight-aways
Highway One a paved treadmill
Rolling under your flying feet

Then abruptly
The grueling long hard pull
Out of Little Sur up to Hurricane Point
At the top flagged and exhausted
You round a sharp bend
And run smack into a panoramic view
Better still-the inclination is down
A brisk wind washes your face
Combs your hair
And there is something else charging
The electric air-Music!
Radiating up from Bixby Bridge
Loping down the sloping road
You cross that majestic viaduct and
Waiting on the other side
The grand piano man
Passing out cups of cool concerto
To splash on your fatigue
Refresh your resolve

Continuing on
Over miles of ups and downs
Past outlooks and vistas
Through the Highland's piney woods
And then the ecstasy
Of crossing the finish line
Where bent over, hands on knees
You catch your breath and get your time

But later-reflecting back on all of this
Music will be the first thing
That comes to mind-like a life metaphor
Waiting just on the other side
Of that concrete span
There is-and there will always be
A grand piano man
    - Ric Masten, 2003  

Ric Masten is a stand-up poet, a teller of tales, and a prominent member of the Big Sur community.

To learn more about Ric and his struggle with terminal cancer, please visit his website at: