Trees

We walk up the hill
slowly
not sure how far deep
our feet will sink.

It is just December
and the day is bright
the pines and fir and spruce
are everywhere.

We raise our heads
from the new trail to see their heights
some look store bought
even though they have never been inside.

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The Cup of Trembling

The sunset is made of gold. It is
made of gold, the sunset, this sunset.
It is made of gold—pure gold spills down the mountainside
and I kneel before the mountainside’s golden
spread

Kneel on the stone and burn this image into my forsaken
brain, sear gold onto my retinas, behind its sackcloth
consciousness (made of gold, it is made
of pure gold—this sunset—made of, made of, made of the quintessent
stuff)

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Christopher, After the Explorer

We hover low over the river. His eyes are shining,
wildfire breath coming in gasps. Wildebeests
stampede through the tall grass below us and I pray
to God everything works itself out, one way or another.
His hands are rough like mine and my father’s
before us. He’s fast undoing the knots and then
a dead weight falls away. When I look back
down, all I see are ripples across the surface
of the dark water, the disappearing backs of crocodiles.

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Bodies

after you cut
down the dead
trees
the field yawns
and gives for the first
time in twenty years
a glimpse
of red beyond the shuddering
loblollies—decaying
metal and wood teeth
the remains of man’s work

no life except
a gray body
shell of hollow skin

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the H.E.B.

that drunk man without a home is yelling
“happy new years” but it’s only the day
after Christmas. for him, what’s the difference?
automatic doors open for me, the security officer
does not bat an eye.

later,
while placing produce on the conveyor
I got distracted and
some little inkling of a poem slipped out
my mind, off my earlobe, and smacked
the ground. it flipped like a fish, wriggled
for some other undeserving wretch to receive.

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Milkshake

“Another milkshake please.”

The waitress eyes her with disbelief. Catalogues her stained-through hoodie and greasy hair. Not that the waitress has room to judge with her own issues: a slight hunchback and blisters covered by her platform flats that she most certainly did not purchase in the 90’s and definitely do not smell with age.

“Another one, girly? Don’t you want some food?”

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Just Past the Dead End Road

danger danger flashing floodlights
laying bare my red hawk mind
extracting talons from the skin
of a mangled rabbit or dead horse what
does it matter you stay either way
to watch me tear at the flesh and not cry once no
you won’t see me weep this time no
you don’t own me anymore no
not in the boneyard not in the moonhouse
not in the field where i kill and oh do i
kill yes i do

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Satisfied To Be Us

To be anywhere in the world
in any weather, to hold a book
like a child does and [moving] moves
from here to the flanks of the Vosges,
stares at a fresco by Piero
or hears an aria float out from a window
on the Coronation Route in Prague.

How fine it is to be us, to be
on the water, our thoughts as slippery,
as fluid, our moods like gusts [of dopamine]
little zephyrs of enticement,
our happiness rising and setting
with the sun, the bright seal of hope
the dimming lamp of rest.

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