SEVEN PRAYERS WRITTEN IN THE SPRING OF 1974

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I WILL LEAN INTO YOUR VOICE

I will drink your voice as a willow drinks the wind.
The terror of your nails!
The meat of your presence!

The seed bull enters his herd with a trumpet!
Grackles fly out of a maple tree, shaking its limbs as  if in a seizure
and the magnificent Eye that sees all creatures afloat in itself
sees me!

I want to run my hands along the nylon over your void. Let me
call your name.

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Lord Krishna Bewilders Brahma

PRAISING KRSNA

Standing on a lake, playing his flute,
golden dhoti giving birth to wheat fields in the air.
Worlds, men and women tangled with stars
are streaming from the flute!

He speaks his own name and universes leap into being.
He keeps quiet and everything melts back into his Being.
He stops playing and eats a mango.

Over a sourceless, sounding lake he walks
every footstep leaving a child waking up in the water.
We are praising you Krsna,
praising you Krsna,
Krsna!

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Photo of bee taken on the road to the White Salmon River.

Photo of bee taken on the road to the White Salmon River.

I LOOK IN THE INFINITE DIRECTIONS OF THE EYE

I look in the infinite directions of the Eye.
See your face upon the Earth,
the circle of your mouth,
your teeth like white geese whose beaks point toward the sun.
Hear a caravan of wind, a shipment of breezes,
thunder carrying your Voice over the farms.
You are the ark and the creator of the ark.

I am calling you like a young tree frog calls for his mate in the night.
I am calling like a cricket to the moon.

I want to be stripped of limitation, forced full of lights.
I want to be a raining presence of affection,
to stand naked before you
and give myself wholly to the river off your glance.

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PRAYING IN A HORSE PASTURE NEAR MIDNIGHT

I enter through a wound
going down into the world
where fire walks, embodied in blood.

I walk into the fire and I burn
upside down in a suit of ashes.

Near midnight
I drink words from a broken cistern,
words and ashes mixed together.

I want the earth never to have existed!
I want colors going back into light!
I am afraid of little breezes touching my arm!
See wings made of moon light beating in the dark!

Something in me wants the iris to float out of my eyes,
wants me to be old, to surrender to the sky,
give up to the floating scenery I am described by.
I want that too!
I want to disappear, become all this.
I want to be with you and to know you.

Come down to this pasture where long eared donkeys bray.
Come down from the tower of the trees
or bring me up.

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HEARING TREE FOGS IN THE RAIN

Hearing tree frogs in rain, I draw back the curtains,
let their clear syllables fall across my boots.

Last night we slept together touching ankles.
Now I stand at this window
holding in my hands the green light of cedars.

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bee in flight on the road to the White Salmon River

bee in flight on the road to the White Salmon River

I SPEAK OF THE NEW BIRTH!

I speak through a cylinder of foam
birds raging in my throat.
A season of nails falls from my hands,
my feet.
The sky slides into my shoulders.

I am not this, I am not that!
The hundred angles of my smile attach to light.
I speak of the new birth!
Nothing is tangled.
The star is a star after all.
The coil is a river and the river is my self.

Watch for me, where I fly in the body of an oriole,
an answer without a question!

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PRAYING BY A CATTLE TANK

I want to be touched by the nameless Presence.
I want my lips to be leaves of fire!
But there are flies on the surface of the cattle tank.
A mare with a belly like a church house has come down
to drink the water.
From where I sit, I  see
the jawbone of a cow that bloated and died in winter.
And a blue jay, everything eaten but its feathers!

I hold my hands up against the land, the sky, oak trees
without end.

 

 

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FORGIVING ABSALOM


“Verily, he is victorious who has conquered himself.” Hazrat Inayat Khan

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I have heard about the courage of a child who found her alcoholic mother lying unconscious in her own vomit, again. How she left the mother there, years later coming to forgive her, looking all the way through the mother’s face to see her own.

I was 8, riding bareback through the woods on an old mare, grey as bark, when I came upon my cousin, who had been adopted at 12 and was then around 15. I was told her mother was a drunk, who’d  had her daughter out of wedlock. Later they say my cousin went that way herself. Where ever she is now, I trust and believe she is happy and has found peace. That day, my cousin rode Aunt Cle’s red mare under a low hanging oak and got her hair tangled in its branches. Just like Absalom had in the Bible.

I knew well the pride and arrogance of Absalom. That day, unseen by my cousin, I sat my horse and watched her struggle, hung by her long hair, red as the horse’s mane.  That day, I heard her crying for help and felt a coldness come up in me like a thousand light years of space. Then I turned my horse and rode away, telling no one until now.

It wasn’t long after that our grey mare was kicked by the red one, breaking a back left leg and hip. She was on the ground, struggling to get up, all her yellow teeth showing but not making a sound. So I ran to my father and uncle, who were drinking coffee and reluctant to come. When they did come and saw what had happened, one of them finished off the grey mare with a shotgun that had a hickory stock carved by hand after the War of Northern Aggression. Then they harnessed the red mare that kicked her and drug the grey off into the woods. The grey mare’s name was Bess. The girl was Ginny.

All the years behind me are a quiet pool of rain water. Easy now to look into that pool and see a face that is no longer mine. To notice it, forgive and bless it, to leave it there, riding on.

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BUMS ON THE ROAD

 

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“Tonight I am a child. I do not know that the moon is not the sun.” Rafael Stoneman

1971

Hitch hiking from Oklaunion,Texas to Ellenville, New York
telling people about Jesus.
Dime in my watch pocket, the cost of a pay phone having risen so high.
People are mostly kind, give me food to shut me up
as if a man can’t preach with his mouth full.
Nearly died of dysentery in Ellenville
eating out of dumpsters what fell from the rich man’s plate.

Stole a jar of peanut butter while I was on the road
believing it righteous to even rob a bank in the service of the Lord.
A broken hearted man just out of prison taught me better.
Said, “Pretty boy like you don’t want to go anywhere near jail.”
One of very few converts that I made
weeping beside me in his mother’s Buick
not for crimes he’d done but for the mother dead and buried
her hair grown so long in memory it nearly reached the ground.

Preacher up in Brinkley, Arkansas
first put me up in a railroad hotel, then had me arrested.
I’d persuaded the youth director of his church to forsake all
take to the road with me!
24 hours in a drunk tank in Brinkley
before they drove us to the county line,
me and one old man the scriptures could not reach
so full of shame he could not help but drink hisself
to death.

When I was a boy, I wanted to be a hobo.
Back when they all had long Bible beards
black as Chinese rivers all in danger now of catching fire.
I see kids on the highway now
20 years old, leaving home without their teeth.
Mouth sores like a leper’s, eyes like campfires built inside of dripping caves.

Where I live in winter the sky is white as fish belly
cut open with a folding knife, water draining out of it.
Travelers keep dry beneath the underpass that leads to the river.
Driving by them in a work truck I sometimes give a dollar
but more often try to time it so I don’t get caught there by
the light.

Crossing the Columbia from Washington into Oregon
I feel a distance come up in me.
Feel the space between the sky and what I call myself suddenly
come to nothing.
Then I am seeing through the eyes of strangers on the road
feeling the common and the aching human heart
that wants to free itself of everything
or die.

Whether it’s Ripple wine or the clearest water, all of us are drunk
on something.
Then we’re dead as any traveler found frozen in a culvert
by the lonesome railroad tracks.

There is joy in knowing this. There is joy in knowing this.

That is what I feel on a bridge of fog between two states
but by the time I cross the river into Oregon, the stranger’s heart is gone
and there is only sky.
The Bible says we have no name that can be repeated.
It says that living with tears is also living well.
Even God sleeps in a rent house that may be torn asunder.

Sometimes I feel shame having lived this long, awake in the night
with so little still to give
but here are my empty hands in friendship.

What I have is yours.

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INAPPROPRIATE MEMORIES

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This is a longish autobiographical poem written in my mid-forties. It starts with Roy Rogers and Dale Evans. Unless you are of an age to remember what mustard and baloney on white bread tastes like, coming from a Roy Rogers lunch box with a pickle wrapped in wax paper, you may not understand what they meant to us. Roy and Dale were Christians before Christians knew enough to be ashamed of themselves. When Roy and Dale became stars they gave up smoking, drinking and swearing, determined to be examples for their saddle pals. And they were. My Aunt Cle worked for a dentist who gave us tickets every year to the Houston Fat Stock Show and Rodeo, where Roy and Dale performed with Pat Brady and the Sons of the Pioneers. If it’s been a while since you heard the cool, clear water of their voices, listen now and drink your fill.

After every performance, Roy and Dale circled the arena on horse back, shaking hands with a thousand kids come down to them from the stadium. Many times I saw them turn and ride back to a child come late to the rail. When Roy and Dale looked into my eyes and touched my hand I knew what the Israelites felt when Moses smote the rock with his staff and water came gushing out. Wherever Roy and Dale may be, in whatever form or formless state, even if they are only cosmic dust, the one whose head their dust may fall upon, is blessed.

Remembering my second cousin, Luther, now, his wife and their two sons, both named Tommy. Not really part of this poem but of the times. I believe that Luther was Uncle Henry’s boy but I’m not sure. My father’s family rarely visited and when they did, they never talked. Luther had a mole on the right side of his mouth the size and color of a pencil eraser. He had rogue eyebrows you could hang a blue jean jacket on. That I do know. Luther was a short man and lean, while his wife was a big woman. When they stood together it was like a struggling pine tree beside a hay barn. I’ll say no more about it. Perhaps I’ve said too much already. I didn’t know Tommy number two and all I remember of Tommy one is his photo dressed in full cowboy outfit, including wooly chaps. He was sitting on a Shetland pony, black and white with braided mane and tail. The saddle was black leather with a silver horn and silver on the stirrups. Might be hard for you to understand how badly I wanted that little horse, that saddle, and those chaps. When he was in high school, his sideburns grown long and thin, Tommy had the poor sense to rope a seed bull from horse back. The seed bull drove into him, knocking down the horse, which fell upon the boy and broke his neck. Then the bull ran off trailing rope which tangled in the bob wire fence and took it down. That’s how they found Tommy in the pasture. He died alone while his mother was in the kitchen frying spam and eggs for breakfast. Maybe ten years went by before they had another son and named him Tommy too. I heard my mother say no good could come of that and maybe she was right. Cousin Luther ended up divorced and remarried to a woman from the honky tonk. More than this I should not say. If anyone alive remembers these events and corrects me I will bow my head, admitting my mistake.

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INAPPROPRIATE MEMORIES


Memories come back to me now inappropriate for casual conversation because too much is revealed by them of the secret heart. In the secret heart are rooms we should not enter alone and caverns leading down to a core of fire.

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1

I was born in Texas

where Mexicans paint pink crucifixes on the doors of abandoned Chevrolet’s
buried to their axles in blood colored rust
and I grew up wanting to be Jesus.

It was always Jesus or Roy Rogers I wanted to be
because I knew then what I know now
if Jesus Christ had been born a smooth shaven Hollywood Cowboy
he would have been Roy.

I had the idea of a partial incarnation of Christ
known as “The King of the Cowboys”
not knowing the role had been filled 5000 years ago by Krishna.

If you had a 78 RPM of Dale Evans singing “Ave Maria”
if the broken arm of the record player swept back again and again
from the end to the beginning
while your heart rose into pine trees shuddering with prayer
then you understand me.

Year after year, I shook hands with Roy and Dale
at the Houston Fat Stock Show and Rodeo
as they rode around the arena on Trigger and Buttermilk
greeting every child come down to them from cheap seating
often riding back to touch the hands of one came late.

It was like looking into the eyes of glowing saints.
It was like touching the feet of a plaster Madonna in San Antonio, Texas
that cries real tears.

2

I decided to become a preadolescent preacher.
I would tour the South healing people
making them bark like dogs up and down the aisles of cinder block churches.
Southern churches have baptismals made of tin 4 to 5 feet deep
where working people are immersed in water, like the Bible says to do
not sprinkled like the rich say.
Afterward we become useful Christians citizens such as plumbers
or insurance salesmen.

Baptismals are hidden until needed by blackboards behind the pulpit
where preachers writes words like ”The Pope” or “The Jews”
during his sermon
drawing a white X across them, pressing so hard on the chalk stick
that it will sometime break or fly out of his hand.

I fell into a baptismal and nearly drowned in there, pretending I was Jesus.

3

I remember Mother’s arm around me in the church
whispering in my right ear
while the preacher walked in his sleep down narrow hallways of the Bible.
The preacher, named Brother Prentice Potter, made his living
driving short haul truck.

I remember his arms swollen with muscle from unloading boxes of fruit
forbidden to the poor.
High on his left shoulder, under the long sleeve shirt
covered again by a cotton tee
was the tattoo nobody was supposed to know about:

a red heart broken into pieces jagged as teeth.

What hair Brother Potter had was thin and curled, stuck to his skull
with sweat.
I worried I might look like him some day.
Now that I do, my right hand reaches back through all this time
to shake hands with the man, to touch him high on his upper arm.

I remember him preaching about the end of the world
while my Mother whispered how good it would be for the world to end
while we sat there in church.
Looking at walls and a ceiling built quickly as the world was
out of cheap materials
I saw Jesus Christ riding out of the sky on a Palomino stallion
breaking down rooftops like the Santa Claus of fire
waving his sword of many colors
blood of the rich red as rouge on his cheeks
their blood up to the thighs of his horse!

His eyes were like the wheat fields of his enemies burning!

4

I used to take the red ball point pen out of my Mother’s purse
the one she kept for marking errors.
I drew nail holes in the palms of my hands and on my feet.
If I could stimulate a nose bleed at that time
real blood could be substituted for ink.
Then I’d lay out in the sun thinking how hot hell must be
and pretend I was crucified.

The earth would fall away from me and I’d be flying on the cross
among stars no one knows the names of.
The cross became a fighter plane or a dive bomber
and I was the lone pilot, 30 seconds over Tokyo.

There was a certain tree I’d climb in, full of faith
whose limbs were perfect for a crucifixion.
With my fingers braided in knots of imagined agony
all around me crows and catbirds laughing like Pharisees in the streets of Jerusalem
I would stand alone in suffering heat
in breathing wind.

The state bird of Texas is the mockingbird.
I imagined them clustered around my all seeing eyes, pecking me sightless
while I looked within at the face of God.
In Texas, the crucifixion of Jesus Christ and Sherman’s march to the sea
are current events.

The tree was a willow and looked like a woman bent over at the waist
brushing down her long green hair.
Standing in that tree was like loving a woman
though I didn’t know it at the time.
Letting go of the body while keeping a grip on willow limbs
I would fly upwards on the cross into temples
of space.

Years ago in San Antonio, I found a crucifix of Jesus laughing.
He wore a crown of thorns big as a sombrero
but even with his circus tears and all that Mexican blood
he was happy
because he knew then what I know now:
All wounds, even bullet holes in our hands and feet
are only flesh wounds.

5

I was a sleep walker.

I didn’t know that I cried in my sleep
wandering around my parent’s house, looking for home.
Even years later sleeping in cars and abandoned houses
and once in a drainage ditch outside Wheeling, West Virginia
when the moon was raised against me like a sickle sword
I was crying and didn’t know it.

There were nights so cold I prayed for death
which seems extreme to me now.
Because I lived, I learned to embrace the cold and make love
to loneliness.

Where I live now
clouds come down over houses and fog squats in pear orchards.
If I walk in that fog I may hear laughter and not know whose.
I may hear children crying or men shouting at their wives.
When the wind blows through the Columbia River Gorge, where I live
it can sound like laughter.
It can sound like men weeping together under a bridge.
The river is loud with salmon backed up against dams
ground in generators and boat locks.

In my heart there is a river
and in my heart there are wheels and gears and millions of eyes.
But there is also a Joy as powerful as weeping
that I cannot defend myself against.

Joy comes over me and I collapse under it.
Then I kneel down and admit to myself and to you
I know nothing.

6

Sometimes I wander at night
staring over this curve of earth, looking for home.
Sometimes I go down through layers of terror into a hole narrow as a scream.
It might be a birth canal.
It might be the wound in Jesus’ side or a hallway leading to a throne.

Sometimes at night I feel I am swimming in a river
or moving through the body of a woman who has no name.
In the dark, I feel for the spreading and the joining of waters
at the source.
I pray She will become small enough to be loved by me
that in my hands her breasts will be the domes of a temple
on fire.

7

In 1969 I decided to shake the dust of Houston off my feet
and walk into the wilderness near Huntsville, Texas
where the prison moon assaults the weary lost at night.
But I didn’t know how to live out there and I still don’t.

I had knelt by streams of blood and drank my fill
of all this world has to offer.
It is the taste of blood that holds us to this world.
That is what I believed.
I had drunk the blood of suburban neighborhoods in Houston
at 3 in the morning when the only one outside was me
and cars that leaked oil.

I had drunk the blood of streets in the Montrose area of Houston
where middle-aged beatniks, artists and professional religionists lived.
I slept in a Chevy with the Virgin of Guadalupe standing on the dashboard
the backseat covered with cigarette burns and knife holes.
I was a mummy wrapped in the bandage of what I had become
and I was crying.

I had one friend always on amphetamines.
His name was Daniel and he drove a 63 Porsche inherited from his father
that still had its original tires.
Rusted out and dented he’d drive down Montrose Blvd dragging his muffler in the street
sending sparks into magnolia trees.

Daniel wore orthopedic shoes without laces so the tongues flapped
as he walked.
These shoes had been expensive when he found them.
They talked to him and they listened like no one else ever will again.
The faster he walked, the faster the tongues flapped
the more information the shoes gave to him.
So Daniel was always walking fast as he could
til the shoes that talked in tongues
would sing.

Once I found him standing completely still in his kitchen.
He said he’d been there for days
but I had seen him drive up half hour before.
He said the shoes wanted him to know how it felt to be a shoreline
carried day by day into the Gulf.
The shoes began to talk to him even though he wasn’t moving.
They began to sing to him like two black women washing dishes at a sink.
“Jesus will be alive long after you’re dead!”

The truth of that hit both of us hard.
Jesus will still be alive long after I’m dead.
Selah. Think about it.

8

I think about death now.
I get up in the morning and the skin of my face hangs like wet sheets
on back yard lines.
My skull is a hilltop being logged to clearcut.
The years strip us bare and lay us etherized upon a table.
The years, they are the hands of surgeons.
They cut us open and force back ribs to expose more and more
of the heart.

Now I look into the eyes of old friends and see burned churches
houses of God broken into and set alight.
Jesus will be alive long after we’re dead.
The soul coils in the body like a mouse that sleeps in the skull of a roadside
dog.

The cities are stacked bones in a trench of blood!
But the green heart is undefiled.
God wears sideburns and has acne on the back of his neck.
God smokes cigarettes in the cool of the evening and wipes his hands on the crotch
of his jeans.

The heart is a river where I kneel in the shadow of a willow
praying to the god of water:
“Carry me. Carry my family. Lift our shadows from us and make them wings.”

9

Between 1970 and 1972 I was always alone.
Everybody I knew was tangled in sex like mudcats in fine nets of fire
but I wouldn’t even touch myself down there unless I was holding
a soapy rag!

At that time if you looked anything like Jesus
girls you didn’t even know would ride up on bicycles and ask you home.
I looked a lot like Jesus.
I had the hair, the beard, the feet.

I spent a lot of time looking up at the heavens as if I’d been hit on the head with a rock
or shit on by jays.
There was a girl named “Meadow Star” who asked me to see a quilt
her grandma made.
She looked like Mary Magdalene and my grandma made quilts too so I went.
On the way she told me she was a dancer
and I thought she meant ballet or jazz
but when we got to her house there were g-strings on the kitchen table
she had made for herself out of buckskin and crow feathers.
Someone had drawn her naked on the dining room wall and written the words
“Ascension to Virginity” over the top of it.

The quilt was spread across her bed like fields of tulips in Southeast Iowa
as seen from a prop plane.
But to me that quilt was a desert where I had come to fast and be tempted.
I drew a circle in that desert with my fingertip and stepped inside it.
Inside the circle was a spring of clear water.
Outside were tongues of fire jutting out of rocks.

10

There had been a night ten years before
when my Father didn’t want to go to church on Sunday night.
He wanted to stay home and watch acrobats from Hong Kong on the Ed Sullivan Show.
Mother stepped between my Father and me and drew a line across the linoleum floor
with the toe of her low heeled shoe.
“All those who are for the Lord, step across that line.”
she said.
“As for me and mine, we will serve the Lord!”

I had just seen Walt Disney’s version of “The Alamo” starring Fess Parker
and Buddy Ebsen.
Colonel Travis had drawn a line in the dust with the tip of his sword
like my Mother did with her shoe.

Inside us is someone who never stops laughing. To know this
is to be in danger of loosing everything.

That night I went to church with my Mother and 20 years passed
before I held my Father in my arms and let him cry.
It was the first of many times he poured his salt into my desert shoulders
and every tear was a sacrifice and every tear was a lie.

11

Glad now I left that quilt undisturbed.
Glad I left that virgin un-ascended.
Glad I don’t have children scattered across Texas who would be the same age now
that I was then.

If I met these children by accident on a bus ride to the Gulf
when the moon was a curved tooth rotting in heat haze
when the coastal plains of salt grass and oil derricks were chewed in headlights
and swallowed by the dark
if I met my children for the first time with the shoreline coming closer
closing around us the olive colored arms of a Mother dressed for church
a Mother big as the Gulf of Mexico
with waves of green fire phosphorous and shallow water shark

if I asked those children, who were never born but have faces
who were never born but have names that come against me suddenly at night
like birds exploding from a branch while I walk in my rich fog
if I asked those children about their father
they would look at me with the eyes of my Grandmother
come back across the Brazos with her face spread wide as a delta fan
they would look at me and say

“I never knew you.”

12

If I could tell how smoking dope in an apartment hallway with all the doors
closed inward
could lead to jobs painting houses
it might be a deterrent to the kids I do have.
I’m a paper hanger now and good at the trade.
Call me at 509-493-5209 in Underwood, Washington if you need
any work done.

I once papered a bathroom for an old man named Jim Root
whose desolation was hidden by jokes
the way a clearcut is from the highway by a fringe of trees.
Jim Root wore a Blazer’s cap and had a wife with a hump on her back
the size of a half grown cat.

When the time came to pay, he said
“You know Adolf Hitler was a paper hanger too.”
I said, “I didn’t know that, and I still don’t.”

I don’t know anything now but sometimes I pretend.
In the middle of long explanations I sometimes remember words of wisdom
that came to me in two fortune cookies
at Bonnie’s Red Dragon China Cafe, in Fairfield, Iowa:
“A worm gnawing in a tree is not heard. Neither should you be.”
“In a lifetime only one hundred words are worth saying. If you must speak
let them hear only the river.”

I left those words slipped between the loose seams of red flocked wallpaper
three booths back from the street
where the naugahyde seats are patched with duct tape.
Look and you will find what I say is true.

When pain comes a man will face it or turn to the river.
He will swell up with silence like a woman with child and he will sing like the river
mud in his throat, salmon leaping from his eyes.

We still drink from the river though it carries bloated cattle on its back
that pile against dams, all electricity released
in water.

I believe that every one of us will crack along lines predestined by the intelligence
of the heart.
The heart will come to harm and it will heal itself.
Spread out over many years or all at once like an ax blow the heart will be broken
by a force it no longer cares to resist.
Then every dam will collapse at once and there will be flooding
on the land.

Flakes of burning sky will fall on the backs of children
setting light to 300 layers of skin going back seven generations!
Our bones will rattle!
The fillings in our teeth will rattle like seeds in a sacred gourd.

I look across years that curve gently back to a single point of laughter
from which all these worlds have come!
I have followed myself through a thousand streets and I have arrived
at this chair by this window near the Oregon border
with all the big trees coming down and the last owls hooting.
Everything I need to know I can see from here.

13

Inside my face is a skull that is always laughing!
It shines through my skin like the stalking moon.
There is death in life and life inside of death.
The dead move easily through the marrow of the living like sleepwalkers
through hallways.

When our bones are hollow
wind blows through them the song of a Cherokee flute.
I have to see through my own eyes and blow through my own bones
a song that is holy and immersed in the blood of earth.

I have to let my voice go up like sparks into magnolia trees
while I go down in the secret heart and walk through caverns
to the core of fire.

History

LINES WRITTEN BY A MAN IN HIS THIRTIES

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The body starts falling away
begins the long process of leaving me behind,
a wife happier alone.

Everything my eyes see will die.
Everything my hands take hold of will be torn from them.
Tomorrow the world will say, “Get out.”

Still I am carried into the valley between Carol’s breasts
where a salty stream of sweat is washing.

I wade in that water to the dripping cave between her thighs.
A sincere opening leads inward to the fire that eats my body as food.

I am happy here, all bones now
one flake of ash smeared on my throat as ornament.

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MY FATHER IN THE SAN JACINTO RIVER

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written for my father, Julius Richard Hopkins, Jr., in my early forties

 

I feel my father rising up through me like a buffalo fish
greasy from the river bottom.
He comes up one eyed, looking at the moon
with rusted fish hooks, cat gut lines across his mouth.
And as the moon kneels down through willow branches
looking at herself in water rings
my father sees himself in me.

I see him in my shaving mirror, his coffee jitter, bit of toilet paper on the weak
and dimpled chin
smell of poot around him damp as flannel.

Taste his cigarette breath as my own again.
Listen for and hear
hound dogs baying at an empty sweetgum tree
the moon curled in its higher branches
where a possum was the night before.
There is joy in that.

I am nine months pregnant with my father
ready now to deliver
his face shouldering through mine.
I will share that face with him a while
and show his eyes for mine.
Then I will let my father rise beyond the surface of the San Jacinto River
where the sun is risen already.

.