The Blue Man

I called him the blue man. It was in 1988 on a Sunday afternoon as I crawled through heavy traffic on highway 205 through Tracy that I saw him. 

I wrote a poem about him.  Once I showed that poem to my mother, but that was before I considered myself a poet.  It was a time when I was in love with the word, “doom.”  I was young then and returning to San Jose from Stockton where I had visited my mother for the afternoon.

I still see the blue man when I drive that road – even though the place where he stood is now the Walmart parking lot.

I still see the blue overalls he wore and the blue truck he was standing near.  The small barn he was standing near was dark brown – the almost black-brown of decaying wood.  Smoke was filling the sky as I watched.

The car in front of me moved four feet and I let my car creep forward.  In the distance I saw the flashing lights of a fire engine turn off the freeway.  The engine made its way down the ramp and onto the narrow frontage road below the line of slowly moving cars.

The smoke grew and I saw the first flames dancing on the roof of the little barn.  My heart broke for him as it was clear that he was going to lose that little barn.

Traffic started moving a bit faster as the fire engine pulled into the little pasture passing the barbed wire fence and the two horses standing near the gate.  As the engine came to a stop, four figures sprang from the vehicle.  One ran towards the blue man, one stood looking at the scene with a radio to his ear, one started pulling a hose off the engine as the last one helped.

The car in front of me started moving faster and soon I was looking at the scene through  my rearview mirror.  Great clouds of smoke were rising and I saw the blue truck moving towards the horses.  On the other side of the freeway another fire engine was speeding along with its lights flashing.

All the way home a poem built in my mind. I still remember the opening lines that poem.  It wasn’t a good poem, but it started:

In a blue land
under a blue sky
a blue man lived
with burnt dreams
and smoldering hope.

On days like today, when the news is filled with fires and pictures of burnt towns – I see the blue man in my mirror sadly driving away and reconsider using the word, “doom.”

On days like today, I remember driving past the same place weeks later and seeing a barn burnt to the ground, blackened scorched ground and half burnt fence posts.  I never saw horses again.

These days when I read of whole towns destroyed in a day and hundreds of thousands people being evacuated – my eyes look up and to the right, to that rearview mirror so many years ago.

To a blue man and dreams and lives turning to smoke.



About Andrew Reynolds

Born in California Did the school thing studying electronics, computers, release engineering and literary criticism. I worked in the high tech world doing software release engineering and am now retired. Then I got prostate cancer. Now I am a blogger and work in my wood shop doing scroll saw work and marquetry.
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28 Responses to The Blue Man

  1. Poor man. I hope he’s okay.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Debra says:

    i like the poem, Andrew. It fits a mood that I’ve been carrying all week. I can understand how the Blue Man would come to your mind from time to time as a distinct memory. It’s been a really tough week, I agree. . I am just distraught over the number of “missing” reported from the Camp Fire. I think we are going to experience a prolonged, and very difficult time. It hurts my heart for those living in the center of it all.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s been a tough week. The news is bad enough, but the last two days the smoke here in San Jose is bad. With the missing count moving higher and the death toll increasing – it’s just heart breaking.


  3. Your “poese” (poetry/prose) is sadly beautiful and evocative, and the California fires are heartbreaking. What a terrible situation.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Baydreamer says:

    What a compassionate post, Andrew. These fires have been so devastating that it’s truly unreal. We’re in the bay area and our air has been affected from the Camp Fire that is 5 hours north of us. I feel for those with health issues where it’s a problem. Otherwise, it’s the least we can deal with when others have lost their lives, or have lost loved ones, or lost their homes. It’s just horrible, and I read the same ending date as you mentioned, by the end of the month.

    Liked by 1 person

    • These fires are going to get worse as the drought wears on. What I find horrible is the speed at which this happened – it gave no time to evacuate the people mobility problems. After the fire is out, the scar will be there for decades.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. inesephoto says:

    What a heartfelt tribute. The loss of lives is devastating. Prayers for the crews from many States who are battling the fire right now.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. CJ Hartwell says:

    Even your prose sounds like poetry, Andrew. A lovely tribute to a heartbreaking scene. I saw some “before and after” pictures of the fire, it’s gut-wrenching.

    Liked by 2 people

    • It’s heartbreaking to see the fires. I have a friend who lost his house in Paradise on Thursday. Sad. Sometimes I think I’ve always been a poet.

      My teachers in high school and even college made the same comment you did – my prose has a poetic quality. I think a bit like that too – compressed language flowing from one place to another.

      These days there is a category for it – prose poetry. Go figure.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. lorieb says:

    very sad to read about what is happening in California

    Liked by 3 people

  8. This is a very eloquent response to the state of our State, Andrew. I like the start to your Blue Man poem, have you revisited it/completed it? It is powerful prose.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Heartfelt, Andrew. My sister had to flee. I don’t know when these fires will end.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. floridaborne says:

    I used to live in Chico and would drive up to Paradise with friends. You had to go up an incline to get there. It didn’t snow in Chico during the winter, but Paradise looked like white icing on top of a cake from their snow fall. It was a lovely place. Hard to believe it’s now in ashes.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. Beth Pine says:

    What an empathetic and heartfelt post, Andrew! The area near Chico that burned was so beautiful! I remember stopping at a spot next to the Feather River that was in the migratory path of the blue swallowtail butterfly and the trees, sky, and ground was filled with blue wings. So heartbreaking to see our beautiful state burning so often!

    Liked by 2 people

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