Waiting for a Sign From God in Front of Luke’s Liquors

I walked into it, straight to the rack at the back,
to the hefty bottles that need their own handle,
paid in cash and sat on the curb, waiting
for the sun to explode. I knew it would happen,
a whitish blast of light I had seen in a dream
a few nights before, after a night of zombie flicks,
the walking dead chewing on hearts.

This heat said something: the crust was melting,
dwindling down into silicon puddles.
My sweat felt like the expulsion of all things
ugly, and it felt right against my skin. When my cell rang
and I saw it was her, I pressed it past,
and called Rita instead. She knew how things were,
always knew for the right price.

A scarred El Camino pulled up, stopped just at my knees
and diablo himself scooched out. Rita had said to drop by at 7:00,
so I hung up and then saw the glossy wood handle in the dude’s jeans,
the look of the devil in his eyes. I kept my gaze to the ground,
tied my shoelace, anything but acknowledge his hellish bent.
After the store door swung open and closed, I raised
a healthy swig to my lips, shook off the shivers

and jerked at the two pops from inside the store. I thought
of my prayer early that morning, “Please God, let me know
how things will turn out, press your sweet palm to my head,
fill me with knowing.” I found a $50 bill outside my door later
and knew He was guiding my way. Must have been dropped
by that chick from Suddler’s Pub last night
when she ran out laughing about 1am. I heard the store door

swing open again, and saw the shadow hover behind me, felt the divine
on my head and heard Him say, “You’ve seen me now,
you know how this ends,” and felt a simmering leave my chest
and finally, just like my dream, the white light came,
and the Earth was taken back by its son.

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Desperado

Deep in the desert, sand stuck to my skin like moss
on one of those river rocks, I pull my horse down
through the fried dirt and cactus, looking into dusk
at the pinpoint lights of some struggling town.
I haven’t eaten in days and the regret pushes me toward
them, those sleepy ones just cleaning the dinner dishes.

I hope they have a saloon. I hope I can swagger just a few miles more.

Since Santa Fe, where I left her, I haven’t rested once,
have wandered with the animals, took things that didn’t belong
to me. The moon saw it, saw it all, but wouldn’t tell
a soul. I have no use for love. I told her
something like that might make me sit in place,
understand how God came to be. Once I almost married a girl,
but she was smoked in a too short summer, some fever
grabbed her and her eyes sunk into black mud.
That was the last time my chest did anything but breathe

and beat. I must be in Mexico, everything feels different.

She stayed with her husband, the one in Santa Fe,
though I rode her far into the sage at one point
before she cried for home. She whispered that I could come back,
she whispered it naked in my ear, clutched me with all the song
she could. I strode off in saddle, not even a full canteen
at my side. I hope this town has a woman,
just for a few nights, until I can rest my feet,
feel a hand on my back, maybe remember
how days once connected one to another.
I almost got comfortable this time, relaxed in her voice,
the desire to eat when I was hungry.
God help me, I am drifting into another dusty story,
the fortunes I seek never quite finding my hands.

Listening to the Radio Go Silent at 3am

It was somewhere in the middle of nowhere,
dark, open country, ghost highway of the desert,
that the radio crackled with static.
George Noory on Coast to Coast just talked to Reiki Master Gil Rhom Ni
about Sedona Energy Crystals LLC, finely tuned
among the abundant vortexes, bathed in sea salts, and scrubbed in sage
for four hours.
As Noory put the button on Rhom Ni, the bumper music came,
‘Only The Lonely’ by Roy Orbison,
and the engine started to sputter,
coughing on delicate silt, stressed by the three-day long run,
and the radio crackled with static.
My hands still stung from slamming them down on the hood.
I was gone, the ghost dance was over with her,
those long miles back along the Potomac shore.
I opened another bottle of Stella, tore the non-twist-off with my hand,
shredding more skin, tossing the tin crown to the road,
and belted it back, smacking the dash when
the radio crackled with static.
The commercial washed away in the wind. I turned down the sound
and heard a low buzz of mourning, some supernatural hum out in the desert,
as if God growled like a coyote protecting his young.
But God is not one to protect his young. He let’s them be mauled,
tossed at birth to wander the earth,

yeah, that,

tossed at birth to wander the earth.
I jerked back to my beer when the radio crackled with static.
The headlights cast that “about to see a person in the road” cone ahead,
one of those eerie, probably dead hitchers you always hear about,
and then you slam on the brakes and their ghastly, white face is at your door
and then you slam on the gas, trying to get further away from that nightmare,
always trying to get away from death, running like crazy.
Noory came back on, but only to plug tomorrow’s show,
about magnetic reversals, the fickle moods of Gaia,
terrorizing us all through epochs of extinction,
all for her own senseless gain and loss. I mean
why did all of us have to suffer through these turns
of feelings and whimsical cadence. Noory wrapped it up
and the music faded down into a low grumble,
and then silence. Whatever the 10-watt station sitting behind a cemetery of sheds
had going, it ended right at three a.m. I drove awhile
in silence, a stuporous and satisfied buzz all within me
when the radio crackled with static. This time there were words,
like the children of the numbers stations, a girl’s voice in whisper,
“You have nothing here, the day is done,”
and I spit out the window, the wet blob hitting my arm.
For a split second, I saw the ghastly, white face at my window,
mocking me once more with her apologies,
and I lead-footed the gas.
I tore through this native place, ready for a simple life,
having left one ocean and ready to hit the other.

Finding a Silver Dragonfly Out Back of the Saddleback Motel

It was while I was waiting for her one evening
out at that motel on Gunniston Road, that I walked round back
of the building, a smoke clinging to my lips,
and saw nearly buried but glowing under the neon cowboy
with his blinking red rope
a piece of silver jutting from the baked hard dirt.
After I reached down and dug it out, it felt cold in my hand,
but it was magnificent: a shiny dragonfly broach,
the clasping pin gone, but the body itself still intact
with maybe a little slight nick from lying half emerged
for who knows how long. But now I had it in my palm;
I spit-shined it with my thumb and got a jabbing sparkle
in my eyes. It caught some kind of reflection from above,
maybe the moon, maybe something I had not seen.
I felt warm all of a sudden. I felt transfixed,
a broken chain of years of how it had gotten here,
some yearning, some long forgotten decisions that stretched
from factory to lady’s blouse to this packed down
piece of shit motel, and it all struck me like an angry man
shaking a baby. I must have looked like a standing corpse
there for a few minutes, as my eyes flipped 180 and I peered
down into myself, at the many times I had no idea what I was doing,
what I may have lost. The deep stare passed and I shook my head,
a dry swath of tumbleweeds down my throat,
and the thirsty horse above me nearly bucked the red-roped cowboy.
I heard a car pull into the lot and walked back round to the front,
saw her black Volvo slide snug into the space,
and I pocketed the dragonfly, knowing deep well
how something so beautiful would be hard to lose.

If There Is a Message in the Clouds I Will Find it Tonight

Without any money at all and a cell phone gasping for connection,
I stride up Highway 278 looking for a place to get gas.
The light on my piece of shit car stopped working a month ago,
so I am always guessing when it is close to empty.
I guessed wrong tonight.
I need to beg for cash too when I find a station; and
I’m sure I look suitably beggar-like about now:
not shaved for days, grease marks on my shirt, and a scowl
straight from the bottom of the barrel. Bad night to drop
two hits of acid on the way to Austin, though

nights to Austin usually go this way. I think the clouds are gathering
above me — unsuitably angry in thick, grimy, wet ways;
I can see faces of those I’ve hurt above me being swallowed by those
who hurt me, a wall of gray hurt eating each other
and now fucking rain, torrential, God’s torrent, bullshit.
I am a fucking fool in the rain in this black night,
this end-of-the-line scene. I am a shaken tiger
wanting his meat. The falling water strikes like needles,
and I run back to my car, a mile back now. Fuck the gas,
I’ll sit in my car and escape these faces weeping on me.-

What the fuck time is it? Nearly three in the morning,
always the same time every night, the same long day into each
brutal night. Where the fuck is my car? The road opens up
like a dry, addled vein, black with dust, pissed off
at its own desolation, as veins can feel after times of neglect —
veins want to be loved, as they travel their long journey
from heart to fingertip. I am dying in this rain, these cold, cloud
eyes staring down at me, judging me: look at this fucking boy
running along this pathetic vein, his security a paltry ’93 Toyota Camry,
with 234,000 miles and a bumper made of coat hangers and rusted
bumper material shit. I think God is one of the faces

now, and this one seems to have a beard and looks even more
judgmental than the rest, and the one next to him looks like her.
I think they are laughing; I think they are fucking;
I think my feet aren’t moving anymore. I look down
and am standing in mud. There is no road, though there are trees,
menacing, fucking crazy trees, but where the fuck is the vein,
how did I end up in the lungs, these swaggling, burlish puffs
of breathing — is swaggling a word? I don’t know, but this journey
through the body is confusing and wet and full of faces from my past
that taunt me, the lost boy, the petulant tiger, crazy,
running deep into the body at three in the morning
drenched by rain and lonely as the farthest stars in space.