The city is sun-drenched on even days
and swathed in fog on the odd ones.
Mondays the citizens eat burritos
the size of feet stuffed with spicy beans and rice, dripping
tomato salsa and guacamole.
At dusk in summer the rollercoasters run
sinister. Neon and taffy colored lights spill
over the city. The streets were designed
in the style of veins, all coming
from the heart and barely able to handle the flow
of traffic, wind, women in sandles and men
wearing backpacks. Breathing out smoke is a pleasure. It stays
in the air and forms the clouds. Engines
run past us and our sleep is full
of electricity. We dream of lightning.
Music is loud and flowers open to scent
the air. Our muscles grow limber.
Butterflies pass through our air, whales
through our waters. We dock our boats
and build beach fires. We drink coffee and become
bumblebees, drumming. No one drives
very fast. Stoplights remind us
how to breathe. It is a carnival
It rains on Tuesday.
Easter Sunday (2 churches)
We drove off into the desert in a pick-up truck
real american kids
got stoned on the Indian reservation.
a private dirt road
wheels stuck in the gravel,
under a stretch of rain clouds,
water evaporating before it could
The old church,
some of them with eyes closed
worshipful eyes turned up even
to the chipped ceiling
and some of them in neon,
brand new running shoes, no socks
They worship in a different way.
No different than I, this morning
kneeling in the church on Valley View Street
behind nicely dressed locals
with the body of Christ still melting on my tongue
only thinking of my own
way of taking Communion.
Your body, my blood
believing in resurrection for a night or so.
Out here in the desert no water
home a short walk away
out here there is that possibility.
and a city has sprung up
among the yellow flowers orange rocks saguaro cacti
among the closer sky and closer sun
thinner air and wind
among the thirsty lizards
and the dirt roads, the desperate people
and the skyline
fatigue and clean air
constellations which are also closer
a little too close to death or God
a little too close to angels out here
in the desert.
I hope I dont see them too soon.
Angels with stone wings and cracked tongues
Angels with empty canteens
beginning to drop the ego under the mojave sun
your empty directions led me beyond the speed limit
to a daytime sun whose light swallows stars
and a 24-hour heat.
your north south west east
brought us to this windy cliff, red pebbles
flung like dead seeds in the sand. the arroyo
below where once there was water.
a specific place with no sense of place, directions
this windy and hollow canyon
swallows human voices, and
is one of those scraps
which are torn away into the scream
of the wind.
Voiceless, I was unable
to warn you of this. Voiceless, I am unable
to chant out the words
which have followed me for days, like radio waves
let go let go
is the dried up husk
of a bird in the sand. Migration is no
Mummified, torn from maps, a reminder.
If as barren travelers, we were
to unravel every connection and toss
the tattered remains of what we grope
into the preoccupied wind,
could we return on the same roads which
brought us here?
what is it to be lost?
let go, let go, let
go of the way home. your
west was held
by the throats of coastal clouds,
couldnt follow us here.
west fell away from me
like a curtain over a dusty window.
i let it go like
what you would call--hours--
shards of language
which have nothing to do with the gathering
shadows, the only remnants of thirst which drink
up the landscape.
and your east
has taken to long walks at night, alone. i
have seen it wandering blindly, looking only at the moon,
stumbling into trash cans and scraping its shins.
each morning must know loss, for the glory
of the dawn, east must let go
of the sun.
Copyright © 1998 Swagazine Six