Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Trying to answer the question


Writing in the spaces within the moment as it moves from
not-yet to all-done, I’m becoming something I don’t know.

Time the vast open rolling prairie of now, and now, and now
again and I seem to be everynowhere in it, shadows taffy-pulled
from long to short to long so fast they disappear, light
like wind on my changed skin. It’s now I’m bicycling down past
the reservoir to Van Houten’s farm and then back behind the
stables to the little stream, pussywillow hiding me as I wade
knee-deep herding sucker-fish it’s now I smell the butterscotch
of Ponderosa pine near a paho bearing someone’s prayer on the
mountain and it’s still now I’m plunging a 5-pound pick-axe
into damp caliche to dig out Johnsongrass while Peter thins and
re-roots the overgrown ginger, every now the best, the only now,
time now space the size (wider deeper running right past the edge
of creation) unfathomable.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Turned fast as light

Masters’ Track

Every arc is different. I heard Mr. John Alexander
lost his wife and sank before a friend pulled him out
into his new adventure, before he could bring himself
to pull hard against the same curve again and again.

The same curve and different each time – light shifting,
the smell of woodsmoke one day and wet grass the next,
one knee aching more than at other times, tempo changing
in small ways. We all felt those things; few spoke it.

John sewed his racing flats out of old bedroom slippers, told
me once he trained by dragging a truck tire tied to a rope
around his waist. He was over 70 years of age, forged iron
for legs by then, faster at the 400 than many 40-year-olds.

The way we were taught to race: spend it all by 300 meters
and hang on, grind it out, gut it out. Others still ran
their race with some reserve, but I learned to relish
that moment when pain caught me, emptied me, nothing left.

Every arc is different, but the way our coach taught us –
drive hard against the curve then float then drive – it seemed
the same arc as an old star flaring, hotter, brighter, each
sparking burning atom turned fast as light before the end.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

And where I was camping

It was too cold to stay at the site for long...but how fine it was.

Thinking and dreaming before I went camping

Camp Bed

Leaf bed, bower, belly to belly with earth and rock
where I’ll sleep, dreaming under the waxing moon of
some earthy nursery, scythed beans composting in quilted
hummocks that steam when the first cold bites down and
puts the drowsy bees up for the long winter night as I
far past midnight watch the hard-shell gourds sprouting,
cotyledon catching starlight in this slowest dance.

Stony slough, burrow, face to face with the pavéed night
where I’ll rest, musing in half-light under quarter moon
on this hard bed of solitude, my bones a creaking mattress
for the thin blanket of my thoughts. But how fine to feel
every ache in that hidden calcium rack and know my stone
pillow, like Jacob’s, echoes the essential mineral me.

Friday, November 25, 2005

Lunch in Marfa


Every body packed right in for lunch
past an indelibly radiant yellow
pecan under a dry cerulean sky.

Red chili macho or brown chili gringo.
Was I the only one who saw what
happened when cheap lace curtains
met the noon sun and traced hearts
that shimmered on beige laminate?

Maybe every body who lived there knew
about the brilliant things done by
fall light and ceased notice, but
I was new there, even the woman with
the emerald parrot got my attention.

I love a curve in a road

Writing about art


Art from artifice in Audrey Flack’s Chanel –
bravura surface, diving deep. Red lipstick open,
silver pearls a strand for Aphrodite, and those
crisp enhancements – powder, shadow – now enchantments
that invoke the writer’s point of view:

The surface that delights the eye is often veiled –
a lipsticked kiss-off, beauty’s moment passing.

Better to embrace a formless form of Braille –
the incandescent darkness skin to skin where sight
and gloss give way to an invisible, palpable light:
where artless touch, and indrawn breath, renew.

No need for paint when one has words...

Small Things

In traffic at sunrise a cottage garden of clouds –
luminous, drifting, rose lilac butter-yellow peach.
Suffused with this pastel wash, we all turn to flowers.

Recursion of mountains like stage scrims
one laid behind the other, ghosting from
violet to grayed lavender to pale warm mist.
At my feet, a blood-red agarita.

Twilight. Moist air makes candy jewels of brake lights
as Venus rises in the darkening eastern sky trailing
the sweet nonpareil of stars.

From a recent trip to West Texas

What I wrote when I thought about Rocky


Once was a firewater time between us, now and never the same all
rapt in your rhapsode memory. You’d spin out lyrics, sing to me
naked, chords and booze crushed together, dark laughing transitive
sex, the solve et coagula of our endless red-eyed night: Apollo and
Dionysus vying, with both our hearts at the center of their song.

Never was a man like you and always broken. Patient at midnight
walking through a rail yard, showing me how to set the handbrake
on a freight car, telling me all the places never to be near when a
train’s moving, then crazed as cracked pottery and drunk with a gun
to my neck, saying everyone needs the feel of cold steel on their
throat. I said some gifts given have too black a heart to keep.

And thus always, always, some volatile liquid enflaming, dissolving
that theater you’d stage every night, monologue and postscript I
knew you’d miss more than me once gone. Your brilliant collapse,
tragic, dithyrambic, twice-born Dionysus torn to shreds endlessly
by maddened women and who could blame them.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

After camping

Rock Paper Scissors

Rock paper scissors, if I could sing:
crack of frost cleaving slate, fractured
down a talus slope.

Paper scissors rock, if I could sing:
rustle of spent Sunday papers gently
pawed by a white cat.

Scissors paper rock, if I could sing:
zip of ribbons curled against the edge
of a dull blade.

(I’d steal the mockingbirds’ songs to sing
one pretty and feral enough for you.)

In Phoenix a while back

Warsaw Wally’s

The glass bar-back worked over by the drummer, broken synched
rhythm his moment while the guitar and bass took a break that
evening when the French couple came in, elegant in mink and
smoke and grey silk while I drew the edge of something skittish
like myself, Bic blue strokes tracing movement – mine, the band’s,
Shelly’s dancing crushed up against some man she just met, drawn
tighter, the bar holding every body’s note. The edge of something
young, awkward, waiting it out inside the band’s van as we passed
a joint around, smoked as if I knew – then police lights and sirens
sobered me right back past the Harleys back into the bar in time
for their next set back to John Lee Hooker’s one bourbon.

Thin blue lines on napkins what I drew to keep things close and
distant, line not mass nor shade knowing too much time spent on
shadows meant like Kore I’d have to stay past closing.

What I wrote for Peter


In the living room, light off each mirror
shivers, mirage-like, from the heat. It’s quiet,
cicadas and the road too distant to break the silence,
so quiet I’m holding my breath as I walk in.

I never was an intruder here before, in your home,
in your living room full of treasures, among your
keepsakes and assemblages, your 15 gilded mirrors.

The most tentative of thieves, so shy about taking
even from the small wooden bowl among your books. The tally:
five pennies, a carved bone button, two snail shells,
one olive-green agate shot with oxblood.

Touchstone. I pick it up, palm and pocket it, wonder
if it’s stealing, knowing you’ll not ever set it,
knowing you’d make it a gift if you were still alive.