Once were beaten —
bruised, the belly
belied the hidden power:
the rawest waning.
Bring the boy along,
with all his weeds and words —
line him up for exorcism.
Nimble fingers dance the weakest string —
that golden one you never change —
and we are neither of us dark of eye,
but far too familiar with anguish.
We were not done with weeping.
We were salt for the river.
And it was only ever this.
Come share a cup of tea,
honey from a sunny jar to break the bitter edge.
We can count to eleven,
while the moon runs off to hide.
But a black magic takes us.
We are the possession of something out of sight,
and it rides the wheel, as always —
ascent, descent —
it rides us harder as we fall.
Eleven devils dance the secrets
hidden all along the weeded way:
bluebirds in the nesting box …
the edge where coyote eye follows …
an old oak where we bury and mourn the wreckage …
river water that carries letters unsent …
tall grass where we call the wind and touch the wire …
the meadow with the bottle in a blizzard where we die a thousand deaths …
yellow petals dropped for love or not …
thorns and cockleburs that catch to remind it’s not so easy as that …
the riverbend where you always and never appear …
the woody slope where I imagine we …
the landscape of sky that cuts through the myth of cage and covenant
and shines on the truth of magic and muse.
we act with varying degrees of premeditation,
and you know how the dangerous moon must do what it does.
because of this i can’t tell if the threatened confession —
the siren song of the road —
is more or less than calculated temptation.
i want you to say something true.
i thought we’d forgotten how to dream,
but goddamn if we don’t wake again to the strains of that sweetest song.
I was drawn and quartered
on the floor
when the sirens kicked in
and we had forgotten the old drill
of waiting for all clear.
And we were sorry for not listening,
so we made our hearing hard.
And I deserved these desertions —
diversions from the way
it never stops calling the wind.
Its hunger the devouring dark
of a new-moon midnight,
we feed it,
and feed it again —
an open vein,
salt eye and skin,
sorrow and shame —
and it feasts
yet first grows thinner
for a time —
a lying in wait,
but always testing the air
for thin wires of light —
measuring the most minute movement,
ever ready to take us unaware.
‘you saw me standing alone’
We’ve swung a bit wide of the mark
and summer’s no time for this work.
I want the exuberance of all this salt
and sunsoaked skin.
All of it —
but for the within —
the wreck of belly,
how the moon intensifies
the consumption of difference.
To sort through the rubble’s a lonesome task —
a constant unearthing
regret and desire.
Yet these are the things we love to look upon:
all the yellow flowers on the river with the queen annes lace interrupting
the sun in her hair her eye
the moon’s full and friendly face
a hand and dancing hand
the wood wild with wind at the storm’s approach
the lights that linger to gather the night
these seconds when your eyes, when you…
when we have
instead of wanting.
Here on the bottom,
I push my fingers into the mud,
with all the music of the world,
muffled and receding.
There is no hand.
The sun cuts the gray and sheds itself
on leaves that blur in lines,
faded and unreal as memory —
a sediment heavy as stone
and the all-devouring dream.
A Cooper’s hawk is winding upward —
the alarm in his scream is lost
in this inward pressure,
the caress of cold water —
the collected rain that runs from this place.
There was still so much to say.
Slowly everything is carried away —
voice and vision,
wind and water,
blood and bone.
Everything is lost at last to its turning.