He was there—
before the rising action rose to meet this acre cornered by thirst;
before birds swallowed bathwater and exploded in mid-sentence;
before they began sipping the blood of ravens from the Sun’s knotted atlas.

He was there,
sleeping with one eye clamped tighter than the other,
          he looked, when he shouldn’t have.

He said, “you are worth the wait”
in the waiting room of the resurrection of another Reservation
and continued to dig for water, her hands (a road map)
in the bucket of white shells outside its north gate.

He threw a blanket over the denouement slithering onto shore
             and saw Indians,
leaning into the beginning,
slip out of turtle shells
                           and slide down bottle necks
aiming for the first pocket of air in the final paragraph.

He saw anthropologists hook a land bridge with their curved spines,
and raised the hunters a full minute above its toll-booth
             Saying: Fire ahead, fire.

When they pointed,
he leapt into the blue dark
             on that side of fence,
it was that simple:
             sap drying in the tear ducts of the cut worm,
             his ignition switched on—
                          blue horses grazing northward in the pre-dawn.



  Tonight, I draw a raven’s wing inside a circle
             measured a half second
                          before it expands into a hand.
             I wrap its worn grip over our feet
                          as we thrash against pine needles inside the earthen pot.

He sings an elegy for handcuffs,
             whispers its moment of silence
at the crunch of rush hour traffic
and speaks the dialect of a fork lift,
             lifting like cedar smoke over the mesas
                          acred to the furthest block.

Two headlights flare from blue dusk.
             The eyes of raven peer at
Coyote biting his tail in the forklift again,
             shaped like another reservation—
                          another cancelled check.

One finger pointed at him,
that one—dishwasher
he dies like this
             with emergency lights blinking through the creases of his ribbon shirt.

A light buzzed loud and snapped above the kitchen sink.
I didn’t notice the sting of the warning:
             Coyote scattering headlights instead of stars;
             howling dogs silenced by the thought of the moon;
                   constellations rattling from the atmosphere of the quivering gourd.

How many Indians have stepped onto train tracks,
hearing the hoof beats of horses
             in the bend above the river
                          rushing at them like a cluster of veins
scrawled into words on the unmade bed?

In the cave on the backside of a lie
             soldiers eye the birth of a new atlas

one more mile, they say,
                                       one more mile.





I haven’t _________
since smoke dried to salt in the lakebed,
             since crude oil dripped from his parting slogan
                          the milk’s sky behind it,
                                       birds chirping from its wig.

Strange, how they burrowed into the side of this rock.
             Strange… to think,
                                       they “belonged”
and stepped through the flowering of a future apparent in the rearview mirror,
visible from its orbit
             around a cluster of knives in the galaxy closest to the argument.

Perhaps it was September
that did this to him,
             his hostility struck the match on hand-blown glass,
not him,
             he had nothing to do with their pulse,
when rocks swarmed over
             and blew as leaves along the knife’s edge
into summer,
             without even a harvest between their lies
                          they ignited a fire—

                                       it reached sunlight in a matter of seconds.


It is quite possible
             it was the other guy
                          clammed inside my fist
who torched the phone book
and watched blood seep from the light socket.

Two days into leaving,
             the river’s outer frond flushes worms imagined in the fire
onto the embankment of rust,
             mud deep when imagination became an asterisk in the mind.

In this hue—
             earth swept to the center of the eye,
                          pulses outward from the last acre
held to the match’s blue flame.

Mention ____________,
             and a thickening lump in the ozone layer
             will appear as a house with its lights turned off—
                          radio waves tangled like antlers inside its oven,
because somewhere
             in the hallway nearest thirst,
                                       the water coursing through our clans
                          begins to evaporate
                                       as it slides down our back seats—
             its wilderness boiled out of our bodies.