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.

Tumbling into Tulsa After Another Bad Drunk

“Fourteen”, the dude says, holding a dark brown bottle
in his left hand, his hair sent into bipolar mode: gray, black, and tan

tassles, the concise look of the dispossed.
“What’s that?” I ask, my boots firmly slumbering on the worn stool beside me,

a near empty tumbler of gold, sweet bourbon in my right hand.
“She uz fourteen, fuck if I knew though,” he continues, the sneer

on his face like a line of oil on the road.
It occurs to me I don’t even know his name, or how long we’ve been bullshitting here,

the hours sneaking by, lost to someone’s idea of a joke.
“Ow bout you, bud, what did you say yer wife’s name was?” he asks, and I say

for the third or fourth time, “I didn’t, but it doesn’t matter, she’s smokin
another guy’s pole now,” and I say it as thinly as I can.

He smacks his hand across his own face and I feel nothing. He could drive a knife
into his own heart and I’d just order another.

At the back of the room, an ancient man with a half-burned face
sits alone, a lazy clutch to a black bottle,

his eyes so deep I could find magma at the bottom.
I stumble back toward him, leave the drunk rambling alone,

and plop down in a chair. “Hey friend,” I say
in my easy way, the smile that got me this shirt on my back,

“What happened to your face?” He turns toward me, the look of ten thousand years of        evolution,
from caveman to Christian sinner,

and says, “My wife doused me with gasoline while I slept and
lit me on fire.” He motions to his hands, crippled, smooth things,

and stares into me, blackening my soul. “When was that friend? Just terrible,” I say.
His lips tighten somewhat as a fly buzzes his face, and he says, “When I was twenty-three.”

Later that night, as I drive toward Tulsa, that no-name drunk asleep
in the passenger seat, I think of that guy, the burned one from before,

and shiver at the last things we said. My life is shit,
I know it driving on in this car, hammered and going to hell. But that guy

he took something from me, an unknown part,
when I asked where she is now, what happened to that immolation, bitch wife.

“She’s at home making dinner, I have to get back,
she’ll be worried to death if I don’t.”

Goodnight, sweet darling, there’ll be no salvation for us,
the devil is holding his own.