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.


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.