Thursday, March 25, 2010

Why We Love Evil

Wallace Stevens hated Robert Frost.
He’d seen that New England poet in the bar
one summer in Key West.
Normally, Frost would sit next
to Stevens in the sun, and they would read
newspapers. When it got too hot,
each gathered his towel, slapped
on sandals, trundling off
to small, thatch-roofed cottages
on the leeward side of the Key.
There’s nothing to say about
the violence Stevens knew: a whipping
through a candle-lit
window, some bruises the next
day at the beach. So when the queen
of the water appeared to Wallace one
afternoon in a dream, with her hands
pretty and shorn of rings, save
a glittering red pearl, he shouted
at night, to his rival: I’ve seen
you mean and I’ve seen you walking
the strand for an answer
the sea
might give you
about violence, about love.
Whisper not about its threats,
the way it sweeps endlessly
into all of us like air.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Desert Two-Step

O, some of us
grew up in some pig town, some
hill town where they
used to take coal
where the drunks
could be run-over by trains.
Once a year, the hard
brown river overran
the poor part of town—
the soul of the place
was in the gas
stations lining the main
drag. Few of us went
elsewhere, wherever
that was, because it all
looked the same
from the windows
of the ‘71 Catalina
your father drove.
The madness came
on command back then—
a dry storm in the mal-pais
one day could make
snakes crawl to you at night,
but uncontested, you pasted
the black sky until
you could leave.

Saturday, March 06, 2010

“Stronger than you think”

You could be anywhere
in America, sifting
through someone’s garbage
like the brave raccoons & skunks
who still make the night passage
from their sewer grate homes.
This & that speckled bird
swims in the high cold air,
waiting for snow to melt—
the sky isn’t there then, or now.
Before the sun acts, then,
a small cardinal has started
his love song. It’s all about
the corner you’ve turned, the turn
you’ve made from the backyard
ken of dead dogs sleeping forever
in suburbia, under the grass, under
the tiger lilies.
Astros Mestizajes, 1

At the Grave of Virginia Trujillo Carrillo, 1935-1996

Death has whittled down
your mean view on life
so that now, in my dream
you are thin, young, and kind
more like my daughter than you.
It is the distilled sense
of loss when someone
you love dies that builds
flowers. Away
from your real life.

Your husband, my father,
rides next to you in eternal
dust, for that is the form
he chose. I have loved
both of you as I love
ashes, the insubstantial.
I have even gone as far
as this to take pebbles
from your grave to spread
in my garden.