Faces in the Fire, Voices in the Stream
For Big Al
We pass by in a line
as old elephants do
one eye on the dead one
by the side of the mud hole.
An old elephant dies, the rest of us
move forward in the rut of habitual turning
and one by one we too will kneel down
for the final time, unaware that the rest will pass
with a remembering eye on a dead elephant
kneeling by a mud hole.
It's warm tonight
at elevation 6.
The wind is from the South
the chimes alert me
to a story in the wind.
I thought I heard geese, traveling
and I thought of you, the traveler.
Where the hell are you, you took off
but your shadow stayed behind
We had lunch in Elk just last week.
You didn't finish your water.
Whenever it is warm you can expect rain.
Each drop will have some kind of nit-wit remembrance.
It's that kind of night.
One time, in Quebec, you said,
"We're sliding right into that snow bank".
Well I wasn't going very fast, and besides it was downhill.
We spent our time in hilarious calamities
that I created. Where did you go?
At lunch, I suggested you finish your water.
Wolves of Snow
Moonlight opens wide the frozen lake
hunting wolves cross the tundra
to the shore.
Stark, forest deer wait
in the snow pines
for the winter wolves of night.
Under the alert moon of snow
search the wind,
alarm the stars.
The harsh wind tore the top off the sky
letting loose the crazy moon.
I got there right after skim-off the sky, it was a crazy moon, set loose, it followed the dog around the yard.
I said," get away from here, crazy moon."
I recognized immediately that things had changed, the sky didn't have no top, the moon was loose, agitated, running around like a Peking running duck, on bandy legs.
I call out "Get away from here," as I try to deliver a blow with my boot.
Following a dip in the stock market, it's understood that the loose moon became a personal favorite of all , dingbat totems, arcane fidgets, post cards from Arabindo offering this advice, do not confuse the moon with the mother.
The crazy moon has run under the veranda, along with the dog. The sky has returned, dark, it overpowers the land, dashing us with a new wind...
The dog wants to come in.
I shout out" get away from here, crazy moon, the sky is your home, the stars, your cousins, the bear's your mother".
Three Black Birds in Autumn
Three black birds on three fence posts
in a fog in the autumn
on an ocean bluff.
The first bird sucked up the deviousness of his mother
that angle, shaded.
Gray to black to gray
and mist, no wind.
There is no wind when death
comes down from the hills,
sweeping the gray grasses, the reddening bones of sheep,
sweeping the fog, the light,
sweeping all, disturbing nothing. There is no wind
when death comes down from the hills.
What a weird and crazy dialog must happen
between the boat rower and those passing to the other side
as they cross the river Styx.
The second bird would know this
the arrogance to start yet another brilliant thought.
Head bowed, black in the mist it roosts
and through the distance it's
hard to know where the bird ends and the post begin.
The second bird is a tall specter
perhaps of Mayan origin,
the corners were squared, honoring the god of addition.
Three black birds
one with the fear of not closing well
not finishing up.
In the end the brood had learned to ride the updrafts.
Three birds in a misty fall
sounds travel miles
a diesel generator in a valley
drift with the wind
to decay, as it were
at the forests edge
like mold and spider webs and bits of mirror
made grand, bask in the glory of death
whose deep humus beds
may be our ancient burial grounds...
Three birds have arrived on a deep fall afternoon. There is no wind.
Your old song, like wood smoke, goes straight up.
It goes past the water trees, the headland hills
over the deer and the river otter
over the blue heron ,and frogs,
over three black birds,
on three, dark fence posts,
a tableau, waiting for the breath of the beast.
CANYON DE CHELLE
You gave me the enlarged breath, to power the heart, an extended breath, the high crazy note to shade the day. I have come to channel the ancient information, taken off the walls of your birth canal. Stick drawings, the horse, five lives by a river, plumes seemed to be in the style. Old pictures on the walls of your canyon, I want to camp out but I must hurry.
To slumber, slump against your canyon wall, press my nose gently, take in your favor, every orifice is awake, there are dreams, streaming out through my tear ducts, I see my last view, the first view lies ahead, out of the canyon of the lost child, light, ahead, birds pass before the opening, geese only later did I know of this, at the lake one time, at dusk, the geese of my earliest memory returned, in formation, a dashing, sink to the lake surface, and stillness in my dream. With my cheek pressed against your canyon wall, mother, I saw geese, later I thought, how well you prepared me for how alert I would have to be without you.
She had a ferocious heart, her talons of genetic power pierced me.
Her teeth knew how to guide the unwary onto the path of death, where long limbs of genetic power dangle, able to darken the light from above, the canopy on the path of death is thick and the unwary may lose their way.
She went to all the old magic spots, but death had kicked in the two doors where entry was certain, no magic, no secret location protected by berry vines and no trick step, no one-nostril breather, it was, finally an end of places magic and so, what earthly reason is there in staying. When you bit the umbilical cord and set me free, you left shortly thereafter yourself.
I heard your voice once, Mother, it came up out of the alder trees disguised as the wind. Like a yodel it came and shrieked, I can not make you immortal, you will die someday when your number comes up, but I can protect you as only a mother can, for I am Aphrodite and you are my son who will forever bear the burden of his father.
Every time I touch you it is a signal that I am leaving bury me with our dancing ancestors the skull and antler people.
She's Going To Exit With Her Twin
She's wandered off, into her own hunting dream now,
as if the taste of blood could reveal a new story she could join
and begin anew. So it shall be with myself too, a wanderer
in a dream, you are ahead, I hunt, I need blood, but I hadn't realized
it would be so formal as to meet you in death.
We don't know which way's North.
In that dreamworld maps were going to be the solution, handed a
bleached vision, to know left and right, but not to know North,
where the wind comes at strange angles,
can eliminate your toes, the light from your eyes,
our wind, from the North took towns off the map,
calves in the dead of winter, and water from the
eyes of men. It came from the North, but
we don't know where that is.
I follow a train of hearts, small red things in the snow of sea white
a rabbit track passes between them,
dreams, cast loose by the wind,
stories freezing to death, untold.
We just don't know which way's North.
In rock and roll songs they talk about Chantilly lace and amazing grace
and stars from the southern cross,
we could crash into continents, suddenly Australia would rise up through
the fog and we'd crash right into it. Everything would fly forward then
rock back, doors flew open, eggs hit the floor, somebody shouts out. It ain't
India," and we'd file down the ropes, wade ashore through
the birth canal, a new continent, we're starting over, goodbye little
I was stuck by the light immediately. The slant as it hit the
hill, up there at the back, during Autumn. It made the orange leaves
electric, pulsed through my eye, to my solar regions.
I became partial to fire.
I searched with the warmth of the sun on my back.
So, it was mapping, it began with step-dancing. A jig on the bricks
by the fireplace,
how far to the forest
how far from the damning ruts of previous encounters,
how new all the information,
how crisp the ever-emerging.
And there, on National Geographic maps, hidden under the books on
Science, the how-to books, we were looking for the how-far books,
and now we don't know which way's North.
There was a great deal of difficulty tying the shoe laces,
both at the beginning and at the end.