Ode to An Indigenous Woman

A dual-spout wedding vase remains to be filled. I got tired of some sacred platitudes such as “water is life” and “heart of maize”. I ate grits and cornpone at you while intimating what seas my blue eye had seen and I indicated where a Muskogee must have begun to cut the scalps off my forebears like some New World covenant had been born and I am the inwardly scalped gentile. I made it clear there was nothing I could do better than be surly about occupying space. It was, after all, “land and liberty” on the corn liquor tongues. What sacred platitude! A dual-spout wedding vase filled with hooch.

Horsehair pottery. A dual-spout wedding vase. And with that we grew entirely modern skins and in the marketplace of skins we sold them for a dollar a dozen or a bead an acre as “the color of land”, and from there we tease about whether to erect a cigar store Indian to adore or whether to embrace the God of the gaps of Cumberland Gap, and therewith won’t you open your ranges to bestow your valley?, and either way we’ve committed an anthropomorphic fallacy of the whole damned thing, from Ulster to Utah. Fire water and rangers and plagues. A dual-spout wedding vase. Horsehair pottery.
We clear our throats. We circle our wagons. Turns out we’re both covering nakedness and waiting for divine intervention. Yet it occurs only to me only now, at Churchill Downs, that you are a beast of burden I know from the farm. You were named “America”, your coat was described the color of American land, on the face of buckles, bolos, coins. You call yourself by the name on my ticket, and you sell yourself by the pedigreed hues of husbandry. America LLC specializes in leathers and pelts. I owe America my livelihood. My throat tightens. Does America win the race? Turns out our bets are the same. America is a dual-spout wedding vase. If the potter was any good then it’ll hold what we put in it. Like a potter’s field. Like a continental grave, funerary statue of liberty.
Tomorrow we’re back on the trail. Many more will die, with dying visions of where the oceans meet the land in a shimmering strip of unbearably bright banality. And in the sacred squint of the eye, the modern and momentary collide with some arguments of prescience and provenance. Yet it occurs to me only now that within such gaps do we access promised lands. Yet we wager against the same sacred platitudes, you and I. Waiting for obscene interruption. No… inviting it, rather. Filling the wedding vase with it, and drinking from dual spouts. A covenant ingested apart, though I may owe it my life. Every unearned second of it.

***

I thought I knew you… Oh, wait, I did… I always knew you… In the back seat of a Toyota… On the back side of a mask… I never knew you… I thought I’d wait until I did…

Manna Meal Ticket

You remember when work was easier ‘an livin’? You spent all them days moanin’ on ’bout how you gotta work to live, you live to work. Yeah, man. Say it again, brother. Yeah, man. How you been? Still kickin’. Ain’t dead yet. Can’t complain. Or I could but I won’t. Haha. Yeah girl. Please sister. Yeah girl. Never see the missus. They grow up so dern fast. They got me hook, line an’ sinker, while my hook, line an’ sinker ain’t touched the water all year. But you remember them OTHER days?… them days when work was easier ‘an livin’? I reckon if the job is good enough then that’d be the best feelin’ there is. Anyhow. Ain’t you got a job to do? You got time to lean, you got time to clean. Who you workin’ for anyway? Don’t need no food, I got that blessed bread and fish buffet. I got the manna meal ticket, yes I do. I get my clothes from the lilies in the field. But just gimme a job. Come on, now. Put me to work.

It Was Morning In Old Mexico, But…

The comforting feeling
I woke up in the hammock with the mosquito net over me
The smell of rendering fat and burning pork rinds from in front of the corner mechanic shop below
It was blowing in the corner window and blowing out the courtyard window

And for a moment I thought I’d woken up in the cab of my truck once more
Somewhere around Lubbock, Texas, where the
air was full with cow.
Copper blood, bone sand. The trains passing the yard even seemed to have traded their steam horns for moos.

Texas. What great act of genius invented a Texas.
A place to walk tall and render the fat.
Texas! The word like a monolith standing in the center somewhere.
Flat skies, oil fields, live by Texas and die by Texas.
Ay, Santa Ana! Horrible Texas, an open question.

The hammock swayed.
The sweet potato man blew his whistle,
the knife sharpener blew his flute, the garbage man rang his bell, and the
children spoke Nahuatl as they cooked
their hen’s egg over a burning tire.
It was morning in Old Mexico,
but Texas burned in my eyes.

Sinners, Pulling Legs Off Spiders

Sinners, pulling legs off spiders

and wings off moths, in

the moss-bedded cradle.

In the forest all is possible if

the forest wants it that way.

Try, try to understand what the

forest wants might not always

be what we wish. Try not to

change the forest, but live

the dark jubilation before

forgiveness peaks between

the leaves at dawn.

Married Women

What sociopathy from the modernist novels! You read Henry Miller and Camus and denied the obvious wisdom of the ancients, that all social relations are necessarily based on an omission and disavowal. That society is organized by way of constraint and sacrifice. That the innocence of children is circumstantial, by virtue of ignorance and not by goodness of nature. But you, who would seem to will ignorance… You never studied your folk etymologies, your vernacular truths, you ran around like a chicken with its head cut off pecking at nonexistent oppressions from a muscle memory trained for nonexistent revolutions. Where’s your head, child? The other end of a hoe’s blade. Now you say you want to sit and talk dirty about your Lost Generation like I was your priest at confession in a Left Bank cafe. And the non-ironic workers and washers, they are to be your backdrop. I’ll have no part of it. Put away your toys. Learn your folk etymologies and your vernacular truths, and stop trying to get a married woman to confess to being the Lindbergh baby. Sometimes we’re just married women.

On the Way Back

It’s been

It’s been over a year

I’ve been in Mexico
How many of y’all died? Hardy har har.

All my poetry and fiction publication attempts had failed, so I tried a different gig. It was something like an everyman and a badge of loyalty. Shit didn’t work out. Never did.

But now I’m coming back

I’ll make it out soon, of this place

Probably will never find literary success

But I’m coming back to this blog

And soon enough back to my beloved country

I’ve outlived Jesus. Gotta figure out what that milestone means.

Salty Cross

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About an hour east of Salina Cruz
on the Pacific Gulf of Tehuantepec
down the peninsular that ends
at the mouth of the Laguna Superior
in about 650 square meters:
Santa María del Mar,
fourteen kilometers down the road
from San Mateo del Mar.

María, isolated, cut off,
no electricity, no fresh water,
no road out, no teachers in,
no police, no military;
The sadistic mateyanos
blocked the road, cut the
lines. Snip. Slap. Sizzle.
And a grito or a glare.
You could imagine either.

You could imagine Mateo sipping
on alternating currents,
corralling together trucks
full of Peñafiel and Bimbo,
Seguridad Regional. The
Apostle sat atop the
diverted riches of the
Virgin. And the sea, of course.

It’s an agrarian dispute.
A fight over salt fields.
A salty cross to bear,
the two saints of the sea,
the one with its hands ever
tightening, waiting for the
last quake, for the tide pools
to exhale, or for the maldito
mar to wash away the
bruises of brothers.

Goodbye Our Western Skies

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Goodbye our Western skies
Into the dark American night

What the Mormon Battalion stumbled upon
in the bones of Mountain Meadows unhitched
can’t see the frontier for the horizon
and the Marian apparitions of Felipe Espinosa,
staring closer into nopal spine until vision
goes viscous and the American Oedipus cries,
Indian grave robber pads his own cache,
Goodbye our Western skies.

assassinated governors, gubernatorial assassins,
and the buried alive, because you know there were,
in all the Boot Hills along the Chisholm Trail
what all we built on the campfires of DeSoto
and the cigarette butts of truckers dying anonymous,
tomb of the unknown temperance, child brides raised
in the sovereignty of the fundaments, mystery which
lanced the growth and pulled out the lie until
it walked itself brisk and wide abreast the Union
Pacific, its horrible rapidity and grotesque
animation a blur of the mind of someone’s time,
Goodbye our Western skies.

Goodbye our Western skies
Into the dark American night

And whatever you say we are still here,
and the painted arrows on the red rock canyons
they’re still here, and the Navajo are still
aware of the evil which they could commit, too,
and through it all I’m not sure where to place,
figuratively, the Western skies.
Goodbye.

Now I’m an old hand – I mean, indulge me in this
for the moment – and I am hanging up my hat and
moving into town and running up the rag that’ll
let them all know where I stand where I stand
and that I’m a man who knows my limits, in that sense,
but I’m a man consciously ignorant of the depth
of the mine shafts, filled with bodies. For they
go down farther in my heart than I ever
ever want to know.

Goodbye our Western skies

Peachtree Ballroom

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“Imma gone down ta ol’ Atlan-ta,
Imma gone down ta ol’ Atlanta some-a-these days
(Hallelujah)”

Ever’one I ever knew in Atlanta moved back to their
Southern hometowns. The city rings hollow of
Olympic days, obstinate Underground Atlanta
refusing to rejuvenate, always wearing its
party hat with a grimace.

Peachtree Ballroom, Ramada Plaza. Cracked
paint, ants in the elevators, hasn’t seen a fix
since 1996. Homeless passed out on the brick
sidewalk under sculptures evoking torches.
How much you chargin’? Sweet baby Jesus.
My name is Morgan, but it ain’t JP.

“You ask the judge to treat you well,
you offer a hundred dollars and he’ll send you to
Atlanta”

We watch you, our hope, our torch.
Atlanta. Who else would never understand.
It ain’t a good day. Hell, might not even be the worst.
But it’s good to get to know you again.
The Peachtree Ballroom with its dull brown
carpet, plastic dividing walls all pulled back,
stains and all. Alone in the ballroom,
alone on the roof, alone in Turner Field,
alone in the heart of Georgia. We’ll talk about
the I-85 collapse and why no one will use
MARTA. It’s a big empty ballroom today.
Oh, boy. Oh, boy.

“Went up on the Kennesaw Mountain
Gave my horn a blow,
Prettiest girl in Atlanter,
came a knockin’ at my do’…”

Dreams About Women, IV

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In this dream I died like my mother.
Lost control of the car.
Felt that weightless instant.
Stomach rising.
Saw it coming.
That long practiced moment.
That slow collision.
Lucid instant.
Knowing the next thing will be pain.

In this dream I died like my mother.
The slow collision of lifetimes
was around the bend in that dark road.
That I did not see.
I did not see the road I left behind.
I did not make it home that night.
I did not live anymore.
I did not see it coming.
I did not know pain.

The final instant is ambiguous.
Private, meaningless captivity of an instant.
And did they find me with Creedence
Clearwater still playing, suffocated in my
ribs and blood in the thick forested culvert
dripping humidity from the night before?
What came out to fill the road?
A Sweetgum ball. A feral peacock.
Squirrels stealing acorns from squirrels,
big trees grown from other, forgotten acorns.
And there I would be, dead.
Florida. Morning. After.

Dead. Dead, you say?
Why, my mother was dead.
I suppose that makes me
…half-dead?

A lively country road at the dewy dawn.