Ransick’s Dream in Salida, Colorado

Sunrise crests the southern peaks,

strikes the white hut high on the hill,

casts shadows along a railroad spur.

Winter rode in on a boxcar last night, 

spent the new moon’s savings in a

ghostly brothel. All night, wind ran

cold hands up the valley’s things,

bristling with newly naked aspen and

pines that know not the beetle hordes.

An old man with smoldering beard and

eyes of grey glass cries outside the Victoria

tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow

but he’s more Lear than Scottish thane, 

banished as he is to a mountain moor

far from daughters loyal or treacherous.

A brewpub inhabits the old mortuary,

customers soaking up suds instead of

embalming fluid. Every alley you skirt

harbors defrocked Klansmen who

scurry into dilapidated shacks or dive

into dumpsters, mumbling of nooses, 

shotgun blasts and crucifix ash.

The Arkansas flows wild silver between

hot yellow cottonwoods, a river anticipating

canyon curves but regretting, like all

pure water, flowing closer to the Springs.

Look west toward Monarch Pass and see

in the flats green fumes rising from a

herd of porcine developers who dream of

bedrock, valleyview, alpineglow over

identical subdivisions, followed by the usual

quick getaway. You wish to be a trout

swimming upstream and even as you

whisper those words you wake

in clear shallows, current strong

through your gills, jeweled beams

lighting your flanks. Autumn is over

and you know in your fine bones you must

swim and swim and never stop.

Ransick, Chris: Asleep Beneath the Hill of Dreams, Ghost Road Press, Denver, 2010: 81.

your books

The books you sent

lie on the shelf

I don’t read them

Austen and Maugham

books on old films

Nazi biographies

furry with dust

purposefully neglected

lies, all of it

histories of French kings

by church-going luminaries

not to be gifted or donated

sentenced to a life unread

books about

dandies and rich bitches

dogs in human form

Agatha Christie

biographies of propagandists

revered by some but

not me

books not worth the flame

not worth time

lying books to lie decoratively

(like all lies)

as long as I control

coronavirus blues

Daydreaming in aisle five

toothpaste and shampoo

silent sparkling commerce

air conditioned

red arrows on scuffed white tile

a guide in the labyrinth

whole aisles are wastelands

handwritten signs: OUT OF STOCK

no one looks at me

not masked employees

shuffling

ignoring everyone

afraid

not shoppers

some unmasked

aggressive

center-of-the-universe

others kind, warm

smiling behind masks

at the absurdity

a blackbird loops above the bakery

scouting crumbs

I’ve been here too long

they don’t have what I need

 

back in the car I

sanitize

mask down

never dreamed I’d need

masks for my family

 

through deserted streets

atomic sunlight

paranoid and guilty

for what I might now carry

 

for CR

tentacles1

I keep his letters close, rereading

so not to forget

reading and rereading

his poems

lamplight dimmed

justice is a concept

for philosophers

our human heroes

die prematurely

slowly

but always die

alive and breathing in their works

a return to emptiness

staggering vitality

it’s the writing life he

wants for me

it’s what I want for myself

also for him to live

in books and human tissue

in garden-side conversations

yielding bounties:

encouragement

humor

inspiration

words often evade the novelist

this does not excuse him

from honing the craft –

language for the living

and the dead

he must remain open

receptive to the world

imagination engaged

use your gift, he said

listen to life’s

lost songs and last chances

cherish everything

live the writing life

Library, by Roberto Bolaño

Wreckage

Books I buy

Between the strange rains

And heat

Of 1992

Which I’ve already read

Or will never read

Books for my son to read

Lautaro’s library

Which will need to resist

Other rains

And other scorching heats

— Therefore, the edict is this:

Resist, my dear books, 

Cross thy days like medieval knights

And care for my son

In the years to come

 

 

(From Two Poems For Lautaro Bolaño)

The garage

Processed with VSCO with hb2 preset

 

Take the staircase

up

fluorescent light flashing

concrete + steel loneliness

new stains

past the sleeping man

with no legs

up

out to dark city morning

cars speed on First Ave

headlights like lightning

sporadic pedestrians

wraiths in fog

a taxi idles in the alley

exhaust and headlights

city of skunk

I arrive at work

less human than yesterday

when I walk out that last time

on both legs

singing

the legless man will be gone

but not my car

vessel of freedom

I speed from the garage

to reclaim my life

the poet sleeps

NotebackAlways another page to fill; the size and shape of the page is inconsequential. I keep my pen in my hand and my hands on the steering wheel.

*

The poet sleeps

while driving

during live broadcasts

the poet dreams

of the future

with folded hands

cigarette dangling

no one speaks to the poet

fearing fire in his eyes

the poet takes note

as always

to return to sleep

deep as abandoned mines

and dream across

landscapes of horror and delight.

Gunman

tree

The gunman’s eyes

shined like his gun

bullets of sunlight

across shadow-expanses

of night.

Murder is hot and nameless

unlike the dead

who yearn for ground

like rain

seeping through history.

All minds affixed to

the poet’s

disappearance

as if it were a poem

in a book of poems

penned by false gods.