Hound Dog Blues

In October, the dullest month
of all,
two rapists escaped
from Sugarloaf Detention Center.

The dogs tracked them through Miller’s Farm,
through pumpkins large as toddlers,
through the discarded rubbers
of puerile lovers
in another road-side field,
and finally into my crop of
secluded grain.

Pheasant swarmed like maudlin incubi
at the sight of them, the cops gangling
forward like agitated, absurd scarecrows,
when Jimmers, my hound,
raised up on the porch
and howled at the pain of it all.

Came word on the radio later
the rapists had been hunted down,
bitten and shot,
assaulted in a fortunate way.

As we napped on the porch,
a white van sped up to the house,
and emerged quickly a hurried man,
hurried like late breakfast,
clutching too many bright helium balloons.

My daughter would be surprised,
come home from school,
her mother last season laid
in the cold dirt of Emerson Baptist Church,
and her tenth birthday lost among the grieving.

After paying the man
and taking string in hand,
I stopped to twist the wedding ring
still shrouding my finger,
turned the gold circle with my thumb.

In that moment, just so quick,
Jimmers got his paw wrapped up in the strands,
and his howl made me jump and fall backward.
I watched the balloons

lift off with him
hanging limp under that rubber bouquet,
floating off in a straight line,
with me being one point
and Sirius, the Dog Star, the other.



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.

There is a Hammer Dulcimer at a Benefit for the Zoo

Her arms catch the floating sleeves of her blouse
as the claws hammer down, the dense chimes

of damn, damn longing springing outward like flying lizards
in some jungle nightmare.

Jungles are chaos, you know, in a Jungian way
as snakes are a symbol of sexual danger.

Not that these people would know. Fuck, some women here
wear bonnets. Ache sucks you dry like that

until you no longer dream of snakes or feel music in your gut.
Maybe you will wear a stupid hat so there will be no lustful implication.

Monkeys sprint through their pens off to our left, the cacophony of music
making their stomachs tighten.

I wonder where she is tonight, you know,
the woman that I love. So when the player bangs with fervor,

I clap with the throng, my tense hands pushed together a little too hard,
and bear witness to those hammers as they pound, pound, pound.

Love, Sex, Delicious, Love

There is no weakness in yielding, the sympathy
of immaculate sex, the ways you stir me deep:
your tender, quick breath and bold attempts
to speak truth to me. I have kissed you
from here to Durango, a long, invigorating road
that gassed us from first touch, a slight passing
as our cheeks grazed. Even the first pioneers
felt no such thrill rolling blindly West,
their nights curled in sex

as the open country awaited them.

I strain for your breasts when I sleep
alone, I grasp for you, to feel your lips
on my back, to taste your tears in the night —
the sensual base. I have traced a long journey,
a finger from your longest toe
and the upward route until I come to rest
on your smooth, loved brow. And yet
I have pounded my fists in the slowest parts
of night alone; only God can know

how slight living can become.

We both know how the unknown grooms madness,
how the idea of a last touch rips
the road away from us, lets us stumble through
uncut fields, the irony of a surrounding harvest bounty.
We are potential, this idea that something is ahead:
love that wipes away that typical sex,
that good, shaking sex,
to be supplanted by this crippling madness.

We walk without shame,

we touch others still, a stiff walk
into a gale wind, the image of other hands
cupping you, of other lips slipped delicately
in place. But I know of this delicious want,
this thing, your body,
and I will suffer this endless trek with hope
to again be between those parts of you,
to look down, your hair gripped tightly in my hands,
and speak without words
as our tongues are occupied by knowing.

Emotion Interstellar

The Earth is not enough for this,
the smoldering thing without mass,
with the closest in nature
being buds that break open their own lips
to show a flesh indescribable.
In the earliest, aching days of forming
this cracked dirt,
these seas boiling with tender expulsion,
magma squeezed toward air,
the massive rock quaked daily
toward a simmering,
and then the horrendous fires
brought eons of lush living.

These stale metaphors could never know
what would grow from that firm birth,
never know these human forms
and their swirling brew.

There is nothing terrestrial about ache.
It likely slammed into mud from the cosmos,
gas and ice burning through the sky
after gliding through sleeping millenia.
Love is, in fact, madness,
a killing lament not meant for any physical form.
And yet, here it grows,
the only thing celestial we have ever touched.

It was there in the beginning,
all that we needed,
but we missed its true, steeped knowing:

there were three in the Garden of Eden,
each pure, lonely, and suffering as anything under God.

There are Two Moons on this Tough Rock

I woke again to nothing but strewn parts,
the wreckage of this life.

It’s been many days since I heard a voice crackle through to me
through the miles, as if I waited for angels

to settle down and take these hands.
Some nights I can almost make it out,

beyond the two gray orbs of this world, my eyes in the sky,
and can almost hear the far off choir of human voices.

Stranded like this, here, by the smoldering expanse
of greenish sea and crying, green leaves

and squat, greenish things, it is all a green hued reflection
of what was familiar. The reddish fruit here

also tastes forbidden.
The last thing she said was she would wait,

but I have no doubt that I will wander this garden
with no loss of rib or delicate kiss,

and salvation in my own hands,
a daily movement as if praying.

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.