Day without plot. Fixtured and fissured. Fractured beyond measure.
I have known heat to stretch horizon to horizon
Like bright steel – a metal or mica or star-scattered heaven
Foundering the mind. Thick-tongued and wordless. White sand
On black brain. Blood rivered in suet. A pocket
Picked empty as wind.
Nothing moves in such heat,
Not lizard or scorpion, sandfly or shadow. Tree
Becomes rock, becomes gray husk, becomes
Ruinous. Squalor of sand. Numbness of sun.
To squat there,
The stones of your absence in your hands,
Is to squat in the center of silence forever.
It is to hold the sun like water in the crumbling of your hands.
* * *
It is to hold the bright day. Sun. Sand. A dun-colored dog
Disappearing into a distance of sun and sand—
Humped, slavering. The steady
Rise and fall of the four flickering paws
Too maniacally silent and concentrated for even
The loose gesture of wind to intrude on.
Or the dream of the day,
A child’s sorrowing and dreaming – aftermath
Of that too much excitement. Four boys with baseball bats
Who had braved what they knew of the horrors
Of the desert, a compound of mad dogs
And oil drums,
barbed wire and heat,
A dun-colored dog disappearing into desert like a dead wind.
* * *
It hangs like a daydream of fish in the sun’s eye. Fish flying
Like birds above the thunder of dynamite, burble of river,
Then falling to flotsam. Fish by the armload,
Blind, dazed, flaccid as faith. A stench
Ripping open the whole length of the gullet of sky
And left for foxes and flies.
A day I walked in sun
Unstable as the dynamite I carried in a brown paper sack
Like in indigestible lunch.
And threw. And walked. And threw.
And watched the shards of hillside rise
Like torn brains to hang in the hair of scrub-trees
While the lizard sang silent in the sun – the blood-
Throated lizard, bloated and bragging in the swaggering sun.
* * *
Or the daydream of glass. White light. Bone light. The sailing of glass—
Shards of pottery heaped in domes
Where ziggurats grew round in wind
And the tombs of kings
Stunk with centuries of fox.
The sun was a blind mad eye
Carved on an obsidian stairway to heaven
Where the fallen bulls of stone
Offered their great backs to me to ride
And dust filled the air like glass.
Mother’s eyes were black fires
As she hurled ashtrays and plates, bowls and crystal
At walls and mirrors. Her voice
Was glass breaking. Her breath was ether.
The stench of fox,
Like the burning of flesh, stayed in my nostrils for days.
* * *
A dream before I knew you, met you. Though I knew of your absence.
I knew of Lydia Cathcart who spread her great thighs
On the Riding Club couch or across
The great outcropped boulders of the desert
For grooms and stablehands.
I knew of her husband’s
Straw-colored pomaded hair and creased
and how her eyes bugged out a little
And spittle formed at the edges of her mouth.
Who would die in the advanced stages of syphilis,
Served out drinks and food, laughed
Like a girl, and kissed me when he could.
I knew of your absence. And I dreamed of Lydia Cathcart.
* * *
And of women on horseback – long shadows in the deep hills.
And one who rode a stallion like a black wind
That even I could not ride,
her hair a raven black.
And then the horse who fell and bled for me,
A deep pocket of blood forming between his forelegs
Like a breast—
a black horse with a girl’s mane
And a king’s name.
And then the dream of women
Ridden by men or boys
In the twilit paddock, moving
Down the long hill in the long heat, arm
In arm, indifferent to all but the long loneliness
Of the first stars rising,
the glittering of raw, fierce weapons.
* * *
And the desert rises then in the twilight. It lifts
Its burnt body out of itself. The scabs of its flesh
Soften. It sings in its silence like an old woman
And becomes young again.
Her sands glitter in moonlight.
Her ridges rise like deep rivers entering the sea of stars.
Her foxes find new stealth,
their fur bristles.
Snakes slither from dark dens with eyes like stars
And tongues like the singing of stars.
This is the clarity
This is the clarity of the long bones of the hills
Rubbing together like the thighs of the long woman
Buried among them.
This is death.
This is the white-hot crotch of death, blue as a diamond.
* * *
And Gafoor smokes his hookah with yellow eyes. Rocks
And claps his thighs. Dreams himself. Stinks of horse,
Stinks of women, stinks of the sun and the sun’s lies,
The long ride.
And the round stones of the moonlight
Are the hunched backs of the night’s feeders
Who rise and walk—
Or the arched bellies of the night’s
Eaten. Who do not get up. Who turn on themselves
Like sculpture. Blue stones.
And the tarantula
Rising like smoke
sings to his green-eyed mate
Under the arched light of her dark sting,
And dances there in the round light.
The yellow-eyed. Soft-thighed. Torn and turning.
* * *
And then shard-light in the broken east and the stones’ cry—
The huddled bones,
Carcass and carcass. Confession of sand,
Celebration of wind.
And bright blood blooms in the desert
As the blind white fish
Flounder from withered pond
To withered pond
Where once the river flowed hard
In the moonlight.
That Odysseus might live – the heartless heart
Succumbing to the body’s stealth,
the moon-fired fox,
Skulking and singing, meeting the dawn’s dead eye.
* * *
O daughter of days. Mother of nights. If I have sought women
As the sun
forgive me the long chains’
Shackle and shackle. Forgive me the great bull-bones
Of the world in the sun,
and hold me now in the implacable
Pallor of your gaze, this improbable poise
Of full moon at dawn’s edge—
Voice of the fathers
And the father of voice—
The great wind,
sing me the singing,
the great song—
O blood of the mothers who labored long!