Long it seemed to the mechanic
that they had settled on prayer;
but finally the words and their implications loosened,
subsiding into the noise of the buzzing generator.
Mutilation, arson, anarchy:
the world was ablaze up there.
Troves of supplies, miles of farmland—sacked, desecrated.
A red-eyed cousin rose to offer a fractured reflection
of the past week, of the horror, and the generator rumbled on,
twisting in constant energy, trembling anger
that the mechanic hardly understood anymore.
The land, the country!
In a war waged on brothers,
families tore themselves from the throng
to find comfort in the removed dream underground.
-Blake and Zoë
Like our ancestors
We were once nomadic.
We lived off Wonderbread, sunflower seeds and cigarettes.
Nights sleeping in parking lots
when the moon looked
fuller in the light polluted sky.
The impulsive nature
radio hush or the ebb and
flow of ocean waves,
the clumsiness of
cicadas or rattling leaves.
We were dreaming
when the hours swan by and
days felt no different.
I left my words on the front step.
Your kitchen smells of winter,
the bedroom of spring.
Every morning he woke to his ceiling
briefly losing himself in its white heaven,
empty, quiet, comforting.
Like the wrinkles on his face,
the cracks appeared
growing from the corners of the ceiling,
deepening, and creaking in its’ old age
it began to collapse and gave way on top of him.
Eyes shut tight,
returning to life as he inhaled,
he exhaled out of bed.
Tom lived in a fourth story apartment
with a balcony that bathed in sunsets and sun rises.
Most days he stood a distance away from the railing,
there were few days where he had the courage
to stand close or place his hands on it.
When he did,
Like the decaying bones of a corpse
The rail would crumble apart
And he would fall over the edge.
His limbs dislocating,
his heart convulsing,
his body hugging the pavement
As he hit the ground.
He stumbled backwards into his living room
And locked the balcony door.
After breakfast he went to work.
Upon entering his car he would die once more,
A head on collision.
He watched the steering wheel crush his stomach
Watched his windshield shatter
as his whole body rattled within
The pulverized vehicle.
Looking at himself in his rear-view mirror
He starts his engine and continues his day.
No one knew how the unpredictable
fate of mortality haunted him
So much so that living meant
to die a new death every day.
Every night he drank tea before bed
But this night, as he slept,
The gas from his stove crawled about his home,
poisoning his lungs.
When he awoke to white heaven,
it didn’t creek or crack.
But simply remained blissful.
This valley is blanketed In layers of green:
clovers, moss, grasses, weeds.
And lilac too – bursts of hydrangea.
I shifted over to the boulder,
The one with a bump for neck support,
The one where had often sat shoulder to shoulder.
There were kisses and fairy tales,
Mudpies, face paint – and a proposal.
But it’s no longer personal.
Noses up! Attention!
Dad & I perk our noses in the air
as we part the orchard’s dark on Grand Avenue
with exaggerated pranayama inhalations
to absorb the scent of the orange blossoms.
Ojai, a place I’ve never been before,
orange blossoms, a sensation I’ve never smelled,
have no reference tab in the black book of metaphors.
Reference & comparison fall aside
as the thick, undulating pleasure
seeps into my chest, hushing my mind
into a dizzy state, drowned with sweetness.
I reach for metaphors;
I settle on closing my eyes.
No, don’t sleep! I said, they come for me:
Four men on horses of treachery!
They spin the wind high and push the sea down low.
You’re awake, He said, at last;
Have you read those voices of the past?
Your last, I said, those words;
Listed on pages and protected by sages…
Who told me those travels were not to be heard?
Don’t fear, he said, there’s a fix;
They tell me it hangs on the crucifix.
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a couple of owls have taken up residence among the woods around my house
a call and response unwavering
communicating position among the darknesses
an owl moon shines down on all the consumable particles
the Arizona forest hums
i drag alone on my cigarette….. illumination
crickets sing in the undertones of melancholy
i hear an organ in the distance
what sounds like a gunshot at a neighboring house
my imagination rides
i think about the Velveteer and her curls
i remember curves of orbit
gallant grasps and sheets of loyalties patterns
in eyes of turquoise …goddess
envelopes cut up in ribbons
marquees of neon perfume emitted
the phone signals a dying battery
the brakes have departed
ghost coasting down the cliffs of insanity
carrying a trunk load of locked up musical effigies
things are said in passing with no real meaning
the lion hangs around my house now
bony, with hair falling out
anyone else with lions
are showing up with missing limbs.
locked teeth and white knuckles
Grand Pre is hanging around
with a sombrero and an eye patch on his face,
the shadow of every eclipse
iron tongues branded the eyes of Evangeline
i hear the whispers of pity aimed at me over the party line
“You don’t have to say that!’ i tell them
the moons shadow follows me around like a rain cloud
the raven outside my window has gathered his cronies
Sly Simeon the politician slides in the door and holds up Victor,
tells me that hanging out with hims gonna get me killed
tells me the worlds on its side and its head
tells me i need to watch more television
that the facts lay on the worlds wide web and not in the heart
just then the lion gets up off the rug and bowls him over
packs him up and carries him off
the ravens turn their attention and shriek with laughter
hit the scene and fly behind lion.
i watch from the living room and put the revolvers back on the bookshelf
the chaos in the alley woke the sun
i thought about looking for my trumpet
the coca cola factory underneath my apartment is injecting the dew with synthetic colloidal happinesses
and the “I VOTED FOR THE WINNER” sign on my lawn has gone missing
Just then William Randolph crashed through my window
got up, grabbed the fire stoker and and said
“there’s a war to win down in Cuba”
and with that grabbed the keys to my lawn mower and took off
i went to the front door to get a glass of milk
found a sperm bank flyer rubber banded on my doorknob instead
went to raise the flag outside
found a barrel of monkeys hanging on the line
i saw my neighbor standing across the street on his lawn laughing
“what’s the matter? can’t take a joke?” he said
and then walked in to go set fire to his house with Freud
I walked back inside and grabbed the waffle maker
threw it in my suitcase and headed off to work
it was a normal day
-Sunshine Davis with William Teller
A dry, hard lump, the shriveled foreskin
corn husk embalms
the white masa and a brown stain of cooked pork.
Eyes first, she offers me the tamal.
When I lift it from her grasp, her split palm opens
like dry-lipped mudcracks in Arizona in June.
The fissure on her hand crosses the life line, the love line, x-ing them out.
My pocket shimmies with coins and they fill her craters.
Here I am, hopping buses across the clay-rich countryside,
a region of Mexico that quenched Spain’s gold throat nearly five hundred years ago,
and to take a bus this woman, who could be
my great grandmother, who could be dead by now,
must steal her way onto the bus, slipping off ten minutes into the ride,
in the back pocket of a family.
It’s not about the wad of week-old tamal
or about the fact that it costs the same as the bus ride,
and that, this time, she pays it up—clinks into the driver’s neat stacks of change,
still warm from my pocket—
but feeling the gold marrow of my body
blushes my neck and my face contorts with…
And I don’t want to have it, to be burdened with gold teeth,
but now that I am, I must eat wedged tamales until I die of thirst.
I sit in my bus seat, knees pulled tight to my chest,
hugging all the pieces of myself, terrorized by their departures from each other,
by growth, by intellect, by simple observations.