Blushing water, varicose current
Glenwood Canyon, Rio Colorado
far from its red-faced consequence
in the Gulf of California, far from
humiliations in the salty flat scar of
Sonora and Baja, far from the sun
burnt indio and crimson Spaniard,
but closer to the heart, trout-tinted
and mosquito infested artery, the
roaring rumor red through geological
adolescence of gulches, picking up
what blood it may to devil-may-care.

Colorado means Red, she said, like
standing on your head, like being
laughed at or choking. Really, we have
only a few colors: red for go, and black
for stop. Rojo y negro. And as the black
mosquitoes kept me awake beside the
black river all night I couldn’t make out
the stars nor the feathered serpent
waiting to digest the blood larvae down
in Yuma, Arizona. Colorado means Red.

Like you have some color, like a face
has some color inside, like you’re young
or drunk or standing on your head. Or
over-sexed. Or bled out. If we are bled
out we are petrified, hard of heart. So
we listen to the colored voice in the
wilderness pass by to be replaced by
voice again. We listen, and we feel like
stone. And the mosquitos bleed us out.

And we are black in the night with
everything else, so in the morning the
river can feed the passions of the
continent for sheepish virgin blooms
and cascading geographic stigmatas.

Colorado means Red, I said, in unison
with explorers and guides of canoe or
station wagon, raising the ceremonial
blade above our victims, offering the
current our cargoes of buffalo assassins
and children with pop guns in coonskins.

Colorado means Red, campfire tales.
Colorado means Forever Never Very.
Colorado means many things to many
unsatisfied people; readers, travelers

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