Saturday, October 4, 2008

Cactus Shadow

(for Edward Dorn 1929-1999)

The gun, never fired,
smokeless in its silver plated life,
is under glass,
under the dust,

rust and oxygen
severing the trigger from the firing pins,
and there’s someone laughing

in the other room, and old man with a broom and a bucket,

Something is just live long enough to rust and fade
and become part of the forgiving earth again—

I wish I were that man on the phone, laughing,
because then, maybe
there’d be something funny enough to laugh about
in this life that is fine as far as it goes but sometimes ,


Just has me staring at another set of things, , running down in their assemblages, their soldered being,

All moving parts become stuck , and break off,

Ed Dorn won’t be
twirling the gun or turning the phrase
anymore from the side of a dirt road,
draped in a cactus shadow
where La Jolla greets with open palms,
the sky is closed for repairs,

There are smoke signals
from hills where the big houses are ,
after the images fall off the edge of the earth,
what ever it is we were driving at,

It means that all the love stops
when we’re no longer here
to arrange the furniture,
it's no longer about us ,
but about the room we died in,
what ever gets discovered on a desk, a shelf,
old cups or rusty guns
hanging from nails in the pantry.

A City Was Magic in Black and White Magazines

In a hurry
and half dumb
with love,
he walks through an alley,
scratching his scalp,

and whistles another country’s anthem in an age when TV headlines have it
that the sky never stops falling,

he stops, sings a stanza in French, “My Cherie Amour”,
and skips mightily passed all the rear entrances and trash bins Simon and Garfunkle would have waxed and waned about in a language that made the obvious things in the city oppressive with meaning secreted among the rheumy lines of grime and gunk, he laughs, thinks bunk, I need her arms

and a good meal with amazing bread, bottled water, baskets full of cheese, and then
someone screams in the city, a woman on a corner screams for life and more money from whatever car passed on a wet street, the night was filled with screams and the hiss of tires slithering up back streets and alleys that used to be short cuts in another decade when a city was magic in black and white magazines, there are many hours until the sun comes rises over the river, light rays poking between the suspension cables of sleeping bridges,
days to go before something falls from the sky again with all the heaviness assembled weight can bring on the length of the streets, minutes away one of our own leaving the coil that binds us as another joins the chorus, too young in the first moments to hold sheet music or know what we’re attached to in these blurs that come alive from their darkness and approach him in the dark, he sings on, too late,

he’s asked
“Where you from,”
and he sings
too cloud to hear
a metallic click
and a bark of large dogs,
he was expecting everyone to join in the chorus
because love is all that matters
when everyone knows the words,

but instead the night
blackens all at once,
a curtain drops,
every line is unhinged
as doors would be
in a fast, devastating
heat coming across
a flat Nevada desert,
a city of jewels
burns high on a
mountain top,
there is only
light to follow,
chord less , unstrung music
at the end of corridor filled with
white light and cigarette smoke.