Day 110: April 19, 2017

Go Fuck Yourself Yeats (A Poem)

Oh, weary eyes!
Nay, I cannot hear nor taste,
my fingertips twinge at this misery.

The poet dead in his hills
laughs at my prose, chortles,
spasms and writhes beneath his green mound.

‘Who are you to say you can craft!
Continue boor; slop away your days churl;
art is for men in the meadows.’

Yeats, you are dead.
Swords still kill, yet your words do not.
Art is dead, yet you are right.

Who am I to say I can craft?
What I am slouching toward, some tedium,
some modest town? I hear Durham is nice.

Mounds are not green anymore, they are pear,
or parakeet, or chartreuse. Deaths are not sad anymore,
they are shocking, or hateful, or routine.

Your world was easy, Yeats,
so don’t lecture me. Even if you are right,
there are fewer words now to be mighty.

Finished a chapter today, some words, some revision. Chop, chop, haste, beat, scene, act.

Words written today: 208
Total for 2017: 47,564

Revision today: 1 chapter
Revision total: 54 chapters
Total words for this manuscript: 118,797 (+10,157)


Moments in Seventy Years, Heart, Heart, Unswell

Love is not fate,
nor some duration of frivolous months or years.
It is molecules flung wide,
astral breaches that birth light and our knowing.
We see an owl in a lone cypress,
its tonal voice like air in a ventilator,
a soft whoosh of meaning and yet melodic
as a string of warm, summer days.
There is amber grass
wrapped tight around the nearby pond and all its affairs.

When a child grabs his mother’s hand
he does so without a hint of dawdling.
He is bound by some recessed dread,
the notion that she might sneak away.
Then, an invocation and a wedding,
the passing of a man from one woman to another,
when he must learn how one naked form
can be so transformed as if emerged from cocoon.
There is a white blanket
cast aside to reveal a pocket of warm comfort.

We breathe still air
as long as our wanderings do not cease.
These are durable moments
that require our steep attention.
I see a body in a lone bed,
its breaths like owl voice in the dead of night,
and the body transformed
as if already shrouded in white blanket.
I touch this, my mother’s heart,
one last beat for this important earthly juncture,

and am awed by my time among these wondrous shapes.

Four Thoughts on Affection

I regard you with strong liking here,
on red-washed trails in the Autumn Shenandoah,
a dirt and leaf tapestry in heart colored crimson.
I wither as your lips push out
into the crisp, wet day.

Then dinner is ready, salmon and noodles,
and our socked feet amble along hard wood.
We laugh for silly songs, push forward
as a ripple on water,
and our eyes meander from table to hand to lips again.

That night, I finally expose you — your ardor so raw
I shake at it and wither again —
and watch your gasps push sweetly
as steam through a tea pot vent.
These are moments I want to run long.

I dream we are tall grass,
blown into entangled braids and my sleepy hand
touches the dark halo on your breast.
In this meadow we bend and weave
beneath a sky in revision from gray to blue.

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.

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.