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of the city had been replaced by the blooming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.