Violins. Violence rubs back and forth
against our borders. No strays on the turnpike,
please. Newspaper prose twists to bones. Cupcake.
French toast. Exultation and shining fur
fuse to a two-point buck. Get out. Get. Dogs
are words. Ashcan. Name your steel-toe, “Shivaree.”
Dance. Take it out on the mutts. Sugary
beignets. No one brings them in at night. Hot-cross
bun. Hit by cars. Headlines scream. These materials,
I unmoor. No bloody litter, broken
lines. Say, “Orchestral, safe in Montreal.”
Dead strays haunt locked bakeries, breaking in, breaking
weak constitutions. They sniff (I must shore
up), searching for that bright and peaceful shore.
Beasts & silvery stars. Average plum.
Prison. Wisteria. Comfort me. Darker,
stronger. Wine. With cold. Johnny Cash. Debtor.
Dirt. Yes. Gorgeous. Wrecking great things. Coke. Rum.
Loneliness invites his self. Eats the last
slice of chocolate cake. Finishes the cool,
late night milk. Moon. Whole. Fatigue makes me. Kill.
Coward, owned & more yellow than to list
retards. Sixth grade. Tease. Brown spit. & squirrelly.
No snow, no patience, no sky, no faith, no
peace. Puppymind wanders off. No coffee.
Sit. Stay. I must load the gun with my own two
hands. Hide. My favorite rose is called.
Cadillac. Cream. Yonder. Ghost pink. Call it.
When they slept—
surely, sheets, family, fences, couches,
but also the white bears, the cascades, and the beautiful horses
with Spanish and Mexican brands must have run under their eyelids.
Sweats and strong tea with horse mint.
The white salmon trout.
A trade: two guns for a guide. Pricey.
But thick snow in the Rockies.
No one back home knew.
Maps must have a distance to work,
and only now can I document our disastrous trip.
You were brilliant and compassionate. You berated yourself:
All the things you couldn’t do.
I was surefire.
You could set me up, set me off, and I would be a mean girlfriend:
Bring up things you couldn’t do.
I understand that I wasn’t supposed to be kind,
but I could have left; instead I lingered.
Mosquitoes—till the dogs howled.
Blue beads and vermilion for food and otter skins.
The greater white-fronted goose—white breast and belly but the ballance
of the neck, head, back, wings, and tail all except the tips
of the feathers are of the bluish-brown of the Common wild goose.
I will dig you up from Washington’s spring dirt,
carry your coffin North and West to a canoe.
I will leave behind the silk lining and drop your body in.
I will fill your pirogue
with what you did not need and you wanted:
shotguns, snowballs soaked in gasoline,
thick gloves and lighters, hockey sticks,
broken teeth, grit from the blacktop in a cut from a fight
lost, a middle name from the Old Testament,
a dog with only half a tail,
CB antennas, a father’s switch,
a donkey who must be harnessed and kicks.
I wish you rest only after a journey.
The Corps of Discovery used mosquito netting,
gun powder, ink, copper kettles,
thermometers, notebooks, flour.
When it had no more, it did without.
I insist that at times you do without.
I wish you had done without me.
I finally left.
Much later, you got sick;
suddenly your death.
I learned of it all after.
When with someone, be kind or leave.
With a trip, go or don’t.
You have gone.
Here, take supplies.
I insist that you see Oregon grape,
starry flounders, big skates,
the pin cherry—with a pale green leaf
and a berry the size of a buck-shot of a fine scarlet red—
the mouth of the Missouri.
Lewis, years later,
shot himself in a small cabin in Tennessee.
When you closed your eyes,
I decide that it was as definite,
as wrong, as daring, as foolhardy, as no holds barred
as the barrel of that gun
for what might Lewis have seen?
A darkness, then a brilliant flaring,
as when the Indians lit firs on fire,
dead bottom limbs sent the flames soaring up
until there was a sudden and immense blaze from top
to bottom of those tall trees.
A beautiful exhibition, he wrote,
I’ll pack you in with wild onion and mussel shells.
I’ll send you out with an osprey crying overhead.
“Touching the Adviser, Author, Compiler, Writer, and Correcter, their Practices are hard to be Retriev’d.”—Roger L’Estrange,
Considerations and Proposals in Order to the Regulation of the Press (1633)
Beaded shawls of rain slip from Anne’s shoulders
down onto London. A shake of her hips
breaks the levees. One unprotected
evening with a dance hall girl, and the city wakes
to flood. Can these remarks go unpunished?
Go? Hell, they run, are called Runners.
The National Guard leave out crackers.
“But the dove found no rest for the soul of her foot.”
“We must muzzle the first movers,”
L’Estrange barks. Loose talk runs wild
and multiplies in the sodden streets. The feral fall ill;
they drank too deeply from the fountain of our troubles.
They’re too scared to let anyone get close. The SPCA
predicts this disaster will lead to generations born
to be hungry then hit by cars. Haven’t you gotten
flyers stuck under your wipers? Didn’t you
just throw them away? Only dead creatures, dead creeping things
travel as one with the currents of rising waters.
Every living beast directs or resists. L’Estrange means
to arrest something. He wants to put it in a first floor
cage and evacuate. Stand in your cell and look out
the window of heaven. No one hears what you say.