Wednesday, November 04, 2009

This is the word of H. as transcribed this afternoon

There is peace, and there is war—
the near and far colliding,
the pleroma of stars and planets
opposed to our very undertakings.
The sun god Huizilopochtli
whispered that to me in the blue twilight:
he is sorry for the crude tears, the blank
crystals—he’ll wipe our faces
if we want. There’s always
time on this earth, he says,
in between the solid smoke
he breathes. This jefe from out west
the war god, too, has told me
there is no peace, there is only war
and the shattered shades of love
we live though in dreams. Look
he says, there is the black lake.
go to it. Watch its power in winter.
Watch the arms of oak and maple
shade the sky before sundown.
There is peace at the end of the sun.
There is peace in the green flash
between frantic moments of daylight.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

For the Drummer of The Jades

I remember how, outsmarted you took
one last class with Master Bartlett—he tore
into your words by not talking of them
at all, in class. Later, walking through
Lennon Park I told you how I’d cracked open
sheet after sheet, sky after sky, all
while looking for a good poem. I’d met
three of four women and they meant nothing
to me, their perfumes, the way each wore her hair.
You, you were listening to the Monkees,
trying to get the hometown ballad right—
but nothing came out sounding like when
a man’s put to heartache or promise
in the high desert when he’s watching a fire
from a faraway ridge and can do nothing about it.

For the wicked had come at night
with the late summer stars blazing
like older women in love. For me, right now,
there is no sound in Ohio that sounds
like the echoes of old mountains
at 9000 feet singing in the sun. Dusted,
I ran the high path only once when we climbed
from the desert into the pines.
So I called to the sky to meet me
In the infatuated South. There was
A run of cold water coursing
From the top of a hill—you know
My soul I left for her to find
forever in the turquoise sage,
and in doing so left my name
for her on this very page.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

The Regime's Horrible Plans

Take the world, for example.
If I press your palm into the map
you’ll see a whole new continent--
imagined maybe, but true.

This much I know: the police attack
wasn’t a random event. Went they out
from the barracks, charged.
The sound of their radios in the plaza
was like the first fist thrust
out of a cage, at all of us.

I continue to covet faith. The last martyr
to me is like a dream attained at dawn—
and at last you’ll be free we’ll be free
except for the crack of static in the air.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009


Citalopram freezes me
in a netherworld
neat and quiet. Sometimes
I find myself sitting at the edge
of my bed, and there’s nothing to say.
On the other hand, buspirone’s
action is unknown. It mellows me,
I mean structurally. The sound
of the grass growing in spring
sunlight, beyond the animal
ledge is what I hear. And when
I’m worried I take lorazepam,
which allows me
to perform without fear. The dark
woods, dense and all consuming,
linger but do not
trouble me. Then, there’s the stuff
for my heart, to slow
the deep volcanic pressures
running though my Chicano veins—
everything has to thin out
if I want to live. In the desert
air of Santa Fe, of sanatoriums
I dream. And when I wake
I drink strong black coffee—there’s
no sugar anywhere in my kitchen,
there’s no sugar in my blood—
that’s the fifth pill working
through the night,
which is filled with lucidity
and light. My lover’s
thighs still beckon even
as the last dear pill
passes and I give in,
I lose myself to the wind
of sheets, the script she’s drawn
from her dresser drawer—
this place is old, and what we’ve
found we taken in for good.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

From the Silent Hallway

Something purer was calling—
the friendly sweet flavor of the smoke
could only last so long before it all
turned to ash. Before the past
caught up with the present
and you found yourself loathing
someone else in a dream of curled
bed sheets or worse—there she was
again, pushing back the thick curtains,
revealing daylight. Outside, what you knew

of the city had been replaced by the blooming
suburbs: all the oleanders, all the wandering
marys spoken for or simply replaced—
I can’t help it that they put in the yew
bushes and silver maples before you arrived.
My house is still yours, bleak Midwestern
ghosts included. What choice do I have
but to accept Northern winds and sunless
days? Why, we’ve been hoping
for rain, the kind of rain that lends itself
to rumors and fortitude: what did you do
with that other person, in your dark
little brick house by the river?

All I can say is that by the time
you get this message, the chemicals
will have begun to flow into
another patient, somewhere in a southern
city where the tulip trees have already bloomed—
O, to be there, gray wanderer, in the bright
corridors waiting with the rest, looking out
from the big picture windows
to the rolling hills of central Tennessee unfolding,
the river only miles away.

Monday, April 06, 2009

The Cold Wind Blowing in Dark Woods

I’ve led a furious life, changing
wives in the midst of kindness,
in the midst of heat. The Phoenix
desert did me no good—the deep
canals seeped into my imagination,
I wanted to travel downriver, beyond
The dried rocks that used to hold white
rapids. When I try to explain this confused
past to friends who haven’t seen me
in years, I remind them first
of the desert acres where I grew
large as a fist punching the dry air—

One day I was with a woman
at the park—there was a fake
lake filled with duck feathers
and dirty water. For the night,
she would betray me
before coming back
to save my life. Or was it
the other way around? For she was
as a still night in the deep
reaches of Sharp Mountain,
when all the black birch boughs
speak another language—

and I understand the words
She spoke the first time
We talked standing next to a Blue Palo
Verde tree, the 737’s thundering
overhead, floating fast to earth.
I stayed with her so that I could
look through the 50 year old
windows of my dutch-farmhouse
home, now, waiting for my children
to return from school—
the weather has turned again
and my thoughts wander to the last
days of winter, the morning glory seeds I’ve
saved to spread in the backyard,
along the fence where my property ends.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

H. Addresses the Fold at Mid-evening

There was a blue light in my dream
last night—under a sliver of moon
I was fancy dancing with a girl
I knew in college, her ponytails
flying in the dry air—I awoke
to the world I’d made the day I decided
to leave her forever. I cut loose
the last threads connecting me
to Ysobel—I looked in her blue
eyes and wept one more time.

Brothers, I took my black dogs,
I went away with another
woman to the dark birch
woods—she later gave
birth to our children,
and we lived in a valley
where mud was as thick
as summer was green,
beyond our means, always
In love. And I am now

writing you for no
reason at all—there’s a cold
drizzle outside even though
It’s spring and the blue grackles
sing each morning, the young
ones, new flyers, wing and flash
before they land in the grass.
For the meanest of seasons
I’ve found no secrets at all
In this Midwestern scene,

So I call you out, unadvised,
to weep with me for our sister
who must wait eight months
to know if she’ll live to see us old.
While the drizzle surrounds us
we wait for midsummer to shine,
O you of the darker connections
who are still waiting for any night
in your endless desert light.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

The Mexican Astronauts: Huitzilopochtli in “Neskyeuna”

Flew over the Mississippi, one
on his way to Illium, the other
on his way to see Machu Pichu.

I knew a naked woman—on the couch
and in the town we'd find the darkest
parks to search each other for love. I'll never
forget those difficult days yearning
as she and I walked through the Sonoran
desert at twilight. I would walk
barefoot and nothing would harm me—
I was in love and couldn’t be bothered.
When the mesquite trees turned in the wind
she said it was my voice moving though her hair.
In all that is and was
the spiked sun was nothing, our sidewalk
voyages were over by midnight. We lived in homes
where no one loved us. No wonder
we married next spring, on Walpurgisnacht,
in what used to be the deepest oak
woods lining the confluence of the Mohawk and Hudson—
the Magistrate was there, in black,
with her leather book and velvet robe.
In the apple orchard afterward we drank
keg beer and white wine from paper cups,
walked into the fields to see bright petals breaking
in fistfuls from tree to tree, there
where years ago shakers had cut down
the forest to make room for planted
rows of quince and McIntosh.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

The Mexican Astronauts: Huitzilopochtli in Memphis, Unbound

Once I flew to Memphis
to sleep with a swan—
the summer clicked to a halt
and I was as green as golden
water is at sunset.

At first, on the hotel
bed we sat crossed legged
while behind us on the desk
a dell computer spun old
tunes: we were old enough

to know we'd held each other
one night long ago
in the Sandia Mountains--
everything was different then.

The air was thin as ice
on a skinny pond, midnight
air, late spring. But this time
there were no stars to discover.

Only the hot summer sun
blasting from behind the thick
curtains that tried to keep out daylight—
it wasn’t my fault—I loved her,
I loved her that afternoon,
touching her face, touching
the small space she made for me

in a hotel room strewn
with thick white pillows, magazines
abandoned luggage. I loved her
as the sun went out
over the whole Southeast--

we heard the night birds
even above the roar of the planes
ascending from the Memphis airport,
we made plans as we traced
each other’s palms, finding

the small lines that led to one
another’s bed, a soft white
dream, a scene too often explored—
here in our heads and under the sky,
so often remembered, and never denied.