Thursday, December 04, 2008

For the missing and dead H. replies to Xicotenga

About the heaven you invented: the day
I slugged one of the Catorie brothers
with a river rock because I didn't want to lose
a fight comes to mind. We were behind
the John Roberts Dam, ambushed
by people we thought were friends--
they, being from the white trash
part of town, living in the cheapest
tract homes bordering the cruel desert.

After that fight you and I would walk uphill
and down along the dry arroyos
unable to talk. It was simple and I wished
it would all go away--the kids who talked
about Led Zeppelin, the working class hatred
growing in me like a deep blue plum.
So about the cave I invented: in the summer
I'd try to see as many ways as I could

out of the desert. Even walked to the one
girl's house who didn't understand me--
the best she could do was ride with me
out to a prearranged place in the desert
where she'd placed a real bayonet
in the rocky arroyo for me to find--
all we did was drive around and then
I took the knife back home: it was
war booty, taken from a dead nazi

in 1943, stolen by the secret heroine
of this poem from her grandfather's
home in Kansas. I'll never know
why she wanted me to have it,
but after that I left for the dark
I'd begun to grow in my head,
a dark like the wide swath
of white pine and Douglas Fir
on the mountainside, underneath

the sun. I had, long ago, knowing you
O time machine mechanic,
sold that old dagger, that symbol
no one could abide. Its money
bought a real dime bag we smoked
up behind the same dam, right before
tenth grade homecoming. For the first
time I said to you in my ghost voice,
for the first time I said to you
this is our world, the land, the sky.

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