poetry and poets

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

cats & dogs

cats & dogs
tony gallucci

Murdoch slept through all night yips and yawns
of a half dozen bluetick hounds
not-so-country grandboys woke constantly,
yipped ourselves across cold Saltillo tile floors

it’s the noise stirs them, grandpa said, mockingbirds,
avocados thumping on the hard valley dirt,
rustle of leaves, nothing but scaredy-cat old dogs
it’s the smell that wakes them up, woke him up

he’d shot a jaguar once, hounds bawling in the Tamaulipas
cloud forest dim, cat after a new milk calf tied to a post
revolution drove the cats south, Murdoch north barely
four dog generations ago

one night, June of ’66, when the blues let loose
he was up with a 12 gauge before we could
wipe the dirt from our eyes, we watched through the
kitchen window as he stalked the barnyard

an oncillo, he thought, looking for chickens, just a guess
he chunked at us that night, or maybe a bobcat,
gato del monte, he called it, stalking the peahen in the pecan
the next morning wisdom ran with the guineas

grandpa couldn’t find the tan kid goat or an excuse,
nor explain the footprints by the barn, size of pancakes
no missing that look on his face, we’d seen it a thousand
times in that picture of him at 20 with that jaguar hanging
next to two old hounds

Published in The Texas Poetry Calendar 2002, Flying Cow Press

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

sweat of asphalt on a july night

sweat of asphalt on a july night
tony gallucci

Okay, okay. 10 p.m. Sycamore Street sweats on July nights sticky from July days. On the new red and white radio tower, the one you can see from right here, blinking its come-on over and over and over, red-dark-red-dark-red, beyond twinkling brooch Brownsville and the dark yucca-studded flats of Boca Chica, in the high gulf air the smell of dank, dark churning waters oily with greed, silver-capped by the maddened atmosphere, and deep down in there where your own oily churnings lay, the smell of disgust, of the planet, volcanic undertones, roiled, choking off pores, the whole planet retches, breathes, gasps, lives.

This feeling: you see a broken-backed possum writhing on the shoulder of the road, but you can't get them to stop. You turn and watch out the back window. You cry. And you turn and watch again. And the window shrinks into a tiny tube like an old television set and that possum is far away now, but you can still see it, can't you, can't you see it, still flipping over and over, and now you can hardly breathe, and only slowly do you let it go and turn and watch the road ahead, counting every dead thing along the way, even the thistles, now dead of their own cyclic need, blowing their youngsters off into the world at large, to root deep in the scarred soil, like hair sprouting where it should never sprout, deep in your nostril, another ugly impediment to breathing what needs breathing, sea-air and salt-foam, and date palms you smell how they sound in the Gulf wind, and those early Sunday morning smells that drift across the tracks from somewhere where you don't know what they say as they tumble from bed early Sunday mornings, or even if you'd want to know, or whether they'd ever seen a possum broken-backed, or ever even been away from Second Street, off down some highway that picks out crawling things and tosses them aside face down to breathe the foul breath of sweaty asphalt on a July night.

deplaning in miami

deplaning in miami
tony gallucci

Chan K'in peeled fletch from green parrot feathers
Edged in blood Wind and circumstance Spit on the cuticle
Pressed to densewood shaft Wrapped with split vine
The stone black point of his son saying gracias to the tourists
You bought the whole set cheap Confiscated on deplaning
In Miami Smiling your Protecting the rainforest smile
the greed and Corporations don't kill People kill smile
Planting seeds for conversation among the natives
Muddy coarse white-cloth-tied ochre-sodded hair
The length of Dreams & You alone reseeded the world

The paper in San Cristobal de las Casas knew the story it told
It was the party told the mayor told the soldiers
Told the thugs See The party dressed down the town
Dressed in camouflage Dressing forty-three bodies
Government-issue bullets and hatred in old big bore
Rifles fresh from Guatemala via Honduras A little Cuba
Thrown in to incite Or was it excite the revolutionaries
All courtesy corporate charity Guilty-conscience
Conservative gringo churches couldn't find any other way
To mask the stench of affluence Desperate for quote
Clean schools Send the lost-and-founds Leftover
Boxes of noodles To missions for the children of the ones
Vanished In baskets passed on Sunday Sprinkle rose petals
Holy water and Hallelujahs Shake a fist Thank God
For our merciful selves Where's the camera?

I saw Chan K'in smile on NBC confused Yes Why have
His people been seen wearing balaclavas Waving pistols?
They do not leave the jungle he said Selling bows to
Tourists who won't see the Lacandon in the wet years
He shows the cameras dented yellow corn in dry fields Peels
The ears Plucks gunmetal blue beetles from the milk
Kernels Hands them to the man with so many questions
Points to smoke on the mountain behind them A laughing
Soldier is there to protect the crew In greased hands he holds
A Tamandua grita he shot Un Animalito he says Laughing
Nu c'uhuk bëk' said Chan K'in
Like sweet honey from the gatherers two meals away
Lights copal Washes the air with redolent fingers
Blows fear over the corn Whispers to the Anteater
The camera follows He closes his eyes We do not leave
The jungle he said You must not understand Anger It
Steals boys before they marry and hands them guns

The cameras want to see Bonampak & Yaxchilan They want
Explanations & Dreamland Everyone who goes there
Dies a little he said Where'd he get permission to
Stage wars then Who is His commander How many
Are there Who has died? Chan K'in's eyes seek his
The jungle answers questions he said We are only place
And time You are looking for People who are not
People but Kings Changing and Night is a thousand
Zeroes on these stone calendars Yes we are Lacandones
Yes we all look the same We are masked
Families conceal Why not? He said
We know of bullets & Know of Spit on the road
Posters of men without faces Yes we are not alone with
Cascabeles Black owls con ojos like suns ask the
Same questions you ask All night We are sleepless
Yes we know people who are not People but want to be
Yes Truth speaks quietly in huts On trails Moves from
Lip to lip in the dark We know your name and see your face
And will not forget

I embarrass Chan K'in with fragments of Lacandona
He stood in drifting mist holding mutely painted bows
And crafted arrows and spoke to me in broken Spanish
No These I am going to sell Yo voy a vender When the
Children eat the flesh of these k'am.bul then they are
Gifts of the .22 rifle It was this caused me to look hard
At the wrap of his fingers Tight around the bows
The creases on his cheeks His ears The curve of his toes
The spaces between them room for a hundred revolutions
If every minute spent alive was an injustice to someone
Somewhere His flattened thousand-miles-walked feet
Still red with mud from paths today Feet that once
Never touched the same spill of soil Satellite trucks
Anoint now with late twentieth
Blessing heathens with ?u hacil hacëkyum Curtains of
Smoke coughing up the ugly past and the Ocosingo Madness
Broadcasting daily with former members and expert analyses
And government denial And brought Chan K'in home
To me .22 in hand Selling piece-of-himself feathered arrows
To souvenir liquor Bags-packed reporters who must
Deplane in Miami and smile

melissa in the year of nothing else to do

melissa in the year of nothing else to do
tony gallucci

It was you
insisted we do it
standing up
convinced me
wet legs wrapped around my hips
arms folding me rosebud around you
hot breath on huffing cheeks
bitten tongues
sweat/cum splatting on the floor
sliding two directions at once

we fell back to the bed exhausted
and smiled sideways

but you never wanted it like that again
it was ecstasy then, it’s a nightmare now

i got it once
got it when you drove a hundred miles
to split a violent thunderstorm
then vanished before light
before we could walk in fog
under spanish moss
while the owls hooted up the dawn
it was ecstasy then, it’s a nightmare now

i still have the sliver of moon you gave me
one frozen night sleeping-not sleeping
above the guadalupe river
we fought the zipper on one old sleeping bag
then gave up
do you still have orion’s belt
gift from me that night
it was ecstasy then, it’s a nightmare now

i imagine you lying on the cool st. augustine
of your city fringe yard
your voice a whisper-not whisper
above the freeway thumping
of teenage chevies
heartbeat of america
are you trying to show your daughter
to warn her
of that belt lost in the mercury vapor haze?
i’d bet you think better of it
you might see me
and remember that piece of moon passed
hand to hand, heart to heart
it was ecstasy then, it’s a nightmare now

i’m a prophet
you’ll see
some late night
astronomical convergence
quarter moon passing through orion
three stars in a silver bowl
that lithe archer will yank her dress to her chest
they’ll fuck standing up
and the pull of the tides
will wake you in the night
scream suppressed
teeth buried in your lip
feeling the pull of everything
we talked about but never did
it was ecstasy then, it’s a nightmare now

but we were going opposite directions
weren’t we
deliverance for me
serenity for you
a convergence too
too brief

now your picture lingers beside my bed
singing river songs
and i wonder
if you ever drive out from austin alone
at night
to find that belt
that constricting gift
gift from me?
it was ecstasy then, it’s a nightmare now

Published in Unlikely Stories, 2003
Publishedin This Order, 1998
Broadcast on, 1998

Thursday, January 06, 2005

fists against the wind

fists against the wind
tony gallucci

Okay, Okay. It's 10 p.m.

Beulah’s her name, some old aunt from Louisiana you didn't know, only heard of, but now here she is because she left her brawling husband behind in some dingy Lafayette stinkhole bar with a bunch of dusty ducks hanging on the wall no one can even remember who shot them. Now, you'd expect her to be blowing hard about all the nights no sleep, fighting him off in the late hours, the only hours when noise would make the neighbors talk 'cause it's so noisy around here anyway. And you'd know it was a powerful storm blowing in, the thunder that wakes you in the times when kids don't wake to anything unless they've been made to, that we don't talk about even if you knew about it, dropping your eyes, looking away, keeping the glare of knowing the truth from blinding you, those kind of storms, that throw dead twigs on the roof and push the ash tree over to scrape at the shingles, trying to get in, cats bawling at the porch door, running from their own unsated torment. She roared in off the Gulf of Mexico as the day wound down, though you'd never been able to tell an hour from another by the light or the dark of it. She roared in and was blowing, they said, 200 miles an hour, sometimes on the only radio station left going, everything else blown away or near. The old Buick Skylark, iron and steel mostly, rolled a hundred yards. I told my sister, the one got me in trouble all the time, told her ‘twas the ghost of Beulah drove that car down the block and ran out of gas, thank God we'd forgotten to fill up, in the fixing up of everything to be ready we'd forgotten to get gas, so if we’d had to escape her ghost, we'd not gotten far ourselves, and my sister, smart as hell, called me a liar, and squealed on me, and I said yes sir, yes sir, and went on about my lying, only quietly to myself to cover the scared-as-hell part. My only tree, the only one I could climb, and talk about at school like she was the girlfriend from another town no one else knew, and pretend had shade in the deep of August, that scrawny old mesquite, watered and fertilized and trimmed like no other weed in the whole world, was stretched northwest like had a rubber band on every limb and was really a jealous slingshot aimed at sleazy old Beulah's heart, until she gave up, gently laid herself down to the ground flat in all that swirling mess of leaves of old newspapers and new creeks, never had been creeks in a hundred miles of here 'til now, laid herself down and whispered sweet wishes to me no more. And just to remember we got to stand out on Sycamore Street for flash pictures with the new Leicaflex and repeating flashbulbs when Beulah was down to a measly 80 miles per hour, and we yelled in the dark look out, look out, and laughed when Michael went flat on his gut to the oily river our street was, and then it just died and dad said there’s the eye and we were sorry because you couldn't see the sun like we'd all been told about the eye, and we never heard the thousand freight trains sound, was really a tornado sound, but everyone is confused when you expect disaster and have to settle for ten days of cleaning mud off everything, and nobody gets killed or even faints, and then the winds picked up again and you watch from inside as part two flips everything back over and the heavy rains hit, the ones that'll take the big river Rio Grande places she's never been and steal the homes of people already gone to Florida for the last of citrus season and have to watch all that from a thousand miles away in black and white. Last thing is us standing sideways against the wind, fists raised against the flash in what's left of what we had on Sycamore Street (and then there’s the hurricane party hamburgers that scraggly old mesquite grilled for us, last thing she does, just for me of course).

Wednesday, January 05, 2005


tony gallucci

Okay. He was my best friend before I knew what best friends were. At five I ‘d moved with my family to this newly built brick house on the edge of town. Like any other place anywhere else, what was edge of town then is no longer -- at seventeen, we moved again, to Houston, moved to the edge of town, to a place now twenty-seven miles inside the metropolis. But back then we had a fine new place in a fine section of place in a place I've grown to know forever as home, though I can scarcely go back there anymore except to search for my father's lost grave.

Kelly lived across the street from me there on Fourth Street where Sycamore Street comes to rest. First Street should have been the edge of town, but where First Street should have been was a drainage canal for the cabbage fields just outside town. It was Second Street truly marked the edge of town, but the blocks between there and Fourth were brush field, and that made our row of houses at Sycamore on Fourth the buttress that made up east McAllen in 1959.

Now Kelly took me, three years his junior, under a wing, and showed me the details of the field: where the big red ant mounds were and how to find horny toads around their edges; how to climb down in the standpipe where the crosspipes had water, and how to make a little dam there and catch black-spotted salamanders out of their dark niches; where the patches of sunflowers that had been knocked down by bushhogs and pushed together to be burned off were, ‘cause that's where the mourning doves and white-winged doves and blue rock pigeons gathered to fill up on waste seed. He taught me how to sneak up on them by crawling from behind the burn piles and how, if you were real quiet, you could knock off a half-dozen with a BB gun before the others got wise and took off for the day; how to catch big carp in the canal where they gathered in the whirlpools of trash at the outlets, and how you could just a drop a treble hook in their gaping mouths and haul in all you wanted, even if Ma didn't want anything to do with those bony old fish.

I was ten when Kelly showed me a Playboy, my first, caked in mud and dog-eared, from finding it in the field, and first told me how guys were different than girls, though my sister was enough to prove that fully dressed, mouth alone, and he told me how certain parts of things were designed to perfectly fit certain girl things, and you had to search and search for the right girl or things just wouldn't fit right and then you had to get divorced, which already was the most horrible thing I'd ever heard of ‘cause Billy's parents had done that and he cried forever and then she found some other father for him and they took away Billy’s name and gave him another.

I was thirteen and just beginning to fight with understanding what thirteen meant when I realized Kelly was there already, in real life, and then he could drive, and I hardly saw him anymore except to hear stories about grander things, mythical things, in the middle of orchards where you could see and hear all around but no one could see or hear you when I didn't know what shouldn't be heard or seen, unless it was boy and girl things and he said yeah, yeah kid, it's those things and you'll know sometime soon. I knew he'd tell me, because he always told me the things no one else would, and he was smart and didn't have a reason to lie, like JimBob did when he couldn't think fast enough to figure things out for himself.

Kelly spent a lot of time at the beach too, not like some of his riding around friends though, because Kelly would never stray far from home for too long. Maybe part of where our hearts met was his mom's problem and my dad's problem. My dad’s throat didn’t work. He got polio in the war. It took away his swallow like a bird grabbed from the nest and now there's nothing to feed those babies. My dad pumped food straight into his gut with a red rubber hose and a glass bell three, four times a day, that's how he lived, at least ‘til he started pouring bourbon down that tube, didn't even have to taste that awful stuff, just poured it straight down there till it numbed off every organ he had and talked them into quitting 'bout the time I was nineteen, which was not far away. Kelly's mom had gotten polio too, but it stole her legs, stole her chance to walk, and she spent her whole days in a wheelchair. Kelly was hardly ever out of reach, though I could see in those dark Dutch eyes that she wanted him out there in the world. Days when I’d cross Sycamore Street to find him, I’d want to linger and absorb that lovin’ deep inside her eyes, but how is it you find a way to watch someone who’s already spent a lifetime being watched.

Kelly’s dad had a used car lot, but his passion was buying Model T's and Roadsters and fixing them up like they were just bought. I thought it was about the coolest thing ever but he wouldn't let me near those cars. My grandma, the one who lived with us, the one who had the answers, said it was a hobby, kept his mind occupied while he was at home where he might be needed to help out the wife, who needed a lot of help, and I didn't know what kind of help, she had a wheelchair that'd take her anywhere, and grandma with the answers said sometimes she knew the answers but couldn't say them. Kelly and I hardly talked about our parents, but I'm sure now that part of us being us was that we had parents we didn't want to talk about.

TV was still special back then. Everybody watched on the fall night when the new shows came out for the season, and you had favorites like Lucy and Gleason and Carson and you never missed them, and it was a family thing to sit and laugh together in the evenings. I remember sitting, every night, with my dad as he watched the evening news, first the national network news, then the local news from two stations, not in our town, but from nearby towns even smaller than ours, and maybe that helped steep me in some of the things I'm interested in today, and how that is one of the few memories I have of my dad, who'd been on the fringes of history, and had an appetite for politics and history and news, and how one December night we saw the local Channel 5 KGBT-TV show film of a wreck, three teenagers, drinking, hit a tree and were all killed, one of them flying out of his shoes through the front windshield and they showed his shoes there in the front floorboard and said his name Kelly Timlin and mom flew out the front door screaming across the street to Kelly's mom slumped in her wheelchair just heard the news over the phone herself and then had to see that on TV.

Kelly taught me to play marbles, not just to shoot, but to kill, how to use a shooter and play the angles and pick the rim, and then showed me how to flip baseball cards and I got real good at that too, so good that every time we played I was the winner of the last game and got back all the marbles and cards I'd lost to him before, though gone now are all my old Mantles and Maris' and Koufax's. I've still got some of the marbles though and I keep them in a milk bottle on a shelf with other things from back then.

Monday, January 03, 2005

my hands & everything

my hands & everything
tony gallucci

Okay. She said my hands were very nice. What on earth? Was it my touch, which I had hardly given her, or how they looked, which she could see, but could not know the times they held lizards from the whitethorn and sunflower field behind the old house on Fourth Street, or the limp carcass of a Spanish dove, dead from the BB's, sad gift from me, or the raw blistered time of picking squash, hijole what a time that was, never again. She held my hand a lot after that, held one hand, but held it in both hands like honey she would never let go, and I never knew if she wanted me or my hand the most, this I give my hand in marriage maybe she misunderstood I don't know, but she must've figured it out because she never gave hers away like that. When numero dos said almost identical the same thing, "you have such beautiful hands" I was becoming on the suspicious side, what is up with my hands, like maybe she was loving me for some deep down inside reason, or for the way my hands could work her into that smile, before we lay soft belly to soft belly, and fell asleep like that for even some time in the daytime when it was cool in November, or maybe she was just trying to think of something nice to say, since we both knew I was el feo, and this way she could be at least complimentary before we sank into each other, whether 'twas lust or one step beyond, we knew was fooling around, not really love, but we could pretend couldn't we? Anyway, this hands things was getting to me. They would say this you know, and I would look at my hands and think, I don't see nothing, but I took to looking at the hands of everyone around me, especially the men. Sometimes I convinced myself that I had special hands, like they were some man's hands. Sometimes, it was like they were nice and soft and puro macho pero not like someone who dug wells in the hard caliche or was picking those damned squashes all the time, but were strong and gentle like a Belgian horse, huge and powerful but could eat the sugar from your palm and felt like you were kissed, hardly touch you at all, and you were alive with that one huge animal. I started shaking hands such that people would look at my hands, say oh my what a handshake, kids making bets on who could stand it the longest before begging away. In the end the girls they have gone on, left with a vision of who knows what face, but those nice hands, and maybe are still using that line on someone else, maybe passing it around in secret books solo por las damas that get retold in the cheap tabloid papers in the grocery lines, cincuenta cada uno. Me? I am going back to my hands just being hands again. Holding babies tight to my chest, like hey this is more a man than just his hands. And hugging children get no hugs at their house, 'cause no one is home, never, or no one cares anymore about anything, much less hug a kid don't know right from wrong, up from down, slaps an ear now and then, this kid he knows better, but I know better, I forgive you, don't do it again, even if nobody's home to say I love you anyway no matter who you are, here there are hugs, don't screw up your life now, there's a lot of years ahead when you got no choice, don't mess this up, this being young, 'cause then it's over. That’s my hands now. Now there are these ladies that come to me in tears crying. If not for themselves, for what was themselves, for the times when they said I love you, and gossiped about their pretty boys, and took them home, and raised the babies, until the babies weren't cute anymore. Then their pretty boys started trying to look pretty again in forty-year-old bodies pretty much look like they've gone forty years, left them at home, gone to strut around in the suburbs sixty miles away, don't get caught, and now these ladies wishing, I wish I had said something about his hands, maybe he would have used them, made a career or at least made me happy, proud, and then the rivers of sadness on blue church dresses and professional three-piece suits, and eyes that know there is nothing worth having in any man, 'cept maybe his hands, 'cause that other thing only brings pain, and a lifetime of raising boys to be the same old thing poking about in someone else's life no matter how many psych books they write about making something of the sons of the future, hormones got no limits honey. And these hands of mine, once called "nice" hands, make hard circles on their backs, across flesh straining at straps of J.C. Penney bras, maybe fancy ones from Saks, and that's all they have left of trying to be a good wife, these closest things to a gift she can give, these tears that mean different messages to a man depends on where they're falling, and I massage their shoulders, and brush away these wet streaks of life gone awry across cheeks that have seen the same torments and satisfactions as these hands, now so scarred from miles of bobwire, stretching, pulling, stapling, untangling, feuding with acres of brush and prickly pear, hog gashes, antbites, razor blades left in hotel bedsheets, the grab of the raven, black widows, too much sun, holding throbbing temples, splintered selves, crushed hearts, a hand beneath a flipped pickup, a dying baby in the Wal-mart, these hands now so much more with real life than when they were so young and "nice" and maybe not even hands anymore.


ony gallucci

Okay. If it weren't for the neon fuzz pulsing in the dawn you might not even conceive a place that had north and south, east and west, hard and soft, cruel and kind. If you had never driven a highway through the frontier, meaning the edge of some kind of nowhere, you might mistake the fog pall for beauty, the benign sort they pin on gallery walls and invite discussion and donation with. If you could not rip apart the narrow difference between the sweet aroma of tortillas and the sweet aroma of bagels in the center of the most volatile diasporas, not the obvious charity-suckled ones, you might be the poor man who failed to make it rich off disaster.

Then if you have a car, let's say you do, you stop at Chuy's, or if it reeks of stale beer and stale piss, what's the difference, and cigarette ads compete with lottery ads, and you can't see anyone awake or alive, or at Wally's, or some other place named after someone you don't know but suppose you might if you lived here, in a place like this, in a place very much like this, but you don't, and you need a place like that place where you come from, let's say you'd rather drive on, take a chance on running out of gas somewhere further from a place that you might know or from someone you might have met, let's say with your car you drive on. What kind of fear fuels you, pushes you down the road, makes you finally stop. Makes you step out of your car door clearly at risk, clearly afraid, clearly dead.

Sunday, January 02, 2005

solo song

solo song
tony gallucci

you'd have to have wings to understand
the trees steal a little sky
along the horizon
and corral dreams before they stray
out there on that edge
lone trees
tiny and distant in our minds sometimes
reminders that beyond the edges
might be some

world worth waiting for

beneath a winter-bare oak
watch it slice the sky
a jigsaw puzzle
somehow keeping the pieces enveloped
bird hovering over her brood
last refuge from an ill wind
gathering the blue fragments of our lives
into a whole
which is just another word for love

same tree
in deepest summer
becomes the sky
just another word for home
for those who have flown too far
or too long
or not enough
huge and close like that
hovering limbs, anchoring roots,

shade and pulse
singing windsong lullabyes
in the darkest nights
the story of a childhood
voice in some wilderness
throbbing of a heart

you would have been the first

to tell us
not to blame some tree
snatching planes from the sky
trees were made for birds
you’d say
this one must have been lonely
drawn to the lonely
you'd say

bird is just another word for angel

maybe you're telling your last story
chuck-will's-widow in the dawn
solo song in the darkness
hoping light arrives soon
for everyone else

what it feels like

what it feels like
tony gallucci

Okay. Okay. This is what a trance feels like. Standing in a scalding shower with ice cubes between your toes. Whistling sweet little tunes in moonlight. To the moon, singing sweet little tunes that never have been sweeter even though they don't mean anything. Anything at all. Except for you thinking they do. Okay. Let's say this trance is yours alone. Or let's say it belongs to your friend too. You bounce your song around lily-white in the afterglow of April dusk, bounce it around the red vinyl, the scratchy Mexican poncho not-really-a-blanket on the trunk, the dirt, mosquitoes humming along, not my idea of singing a song, trance or no trance. Let's say you don't remember anything. Let's say you don't want to, don't want me reminding you, don't live waiting for the moment when ancient history comes knocking on your dreams. Let's say you told everyone you're still in love, and the night runs away from you, solid black down a plain white tunnel, no light, and eats a hole clean through your breast, through your skin, that tightness there when licked and touched like a tongue to a battery, that flesh red liquid bleeding muscle flowing ebbing tide out of your deepness, through your sternum hard as old bread, through open internal air space nothing but room for hearts swelled flaccid swelled, beating, slapping, pulsing away, splitting silence, black, red, in the night of feeling and of wanting, and out through the stolen ribs of one million, exactly, years and generations, and seeds and ways to do this right, with force, not like some alley wimp with chains and thin moustache and bad breath and narrowed eyes. Watch us. The moon dips, a saucer white and furrowed, imperfect, the perfect tool, dips from the Rio Grande and pours its milk over us and there we drown. In June too hot, in April cool, January fine with a fire, otherwise you watch, November yes. It might take you several laughs shared with chocolate no almonds or maybe just driving ten miles on dirt past grapefruit and navels and limones and then to places only moon knows, finding those kind of places in the milklight, holes only she knows until she nudges you there, driving slow, maybe only five to ten on dirt and places the sand ate out and filled with water black with old dead horsenettle leaves and spinning black bugs you can't see except in the broad day or maybe you have to pull one old beak out of your foot if you walk in the puddle ought to know better but who minds that anyway? And the moon she says look here take a look there maybe this maybe over here until you agree on a place big, wide, covered over by forty years orchard or mesquite or thick ebony black with ball moss and lichens. Got to be careful of dripping branches, not of water wet with rain or dew or nectar sucked clean by aphids with all the noise of their young sweet lives, but for dripping of thorns and raw limb wood like sandpaper and stinging hornets and bugs that burrow under your delicateness where reminders persist for time, mostly decades, mostly reminders that love ain't love, ain't what the boys taught you or hid from you under mattresses or in old rusty boxes in backlots or between the lines in holy white bibles, mostly that love isn't choosable or buyable or pickable, or isn't made of dirt or blankets or compounds squeezed together in plastic shapes that look like love would look if love were plastic, mostly that love doesn't need trees or dirt roads or driving dirt roads or wet sand or air cold or hot or dripping with friction and fluidity and liquid like the sand between ocean and dune or flowers or smell or language, especially words said for love which are only tiny dragons wearing chains, or mostly that love is a ghost floats around your bed your kitchen your dark living room when no one comes to visit, rustles curtains, knocks over cups of nectar, smokes your secreted cigars and pipes full of wishes, brushes a cheek in the dark night, steals a laugh in the lighted night, guns a 426 hemi spoiler eight-pack glass packs in the cool concentric streetlights, whispers to you on a deathbed, maybe yours, maybe not, maybe is only a whisper not really love, maybe is a wish not a hope, maybe is a reason whatever that is when it's not an excuse, maybe visits only on those cold remembrance nights on sleepy Mexican scratch blankets or in the arms of an ebony over the Rio Grande naked with laughter and running and flying off bluffs into the silky water of darkness between two ways of thinking two ways of living two ways of dying two words spoken without the necessary third and the distance between what is real and what is right and what is okay and what you can get away with dreaming years down dark tubes of light later in the all loving moon of what you always wanted and never found because it is still lying face down in the bosom of your past.

Saturday, January 01, 2005

praying for something worth praying for

praying for something worth praying for
tony gallucci

Your ashes churned in the river, abandoned the space we gave you. The turtles smelled us and drifted to shore. The way your friends laugh, the noise we brought to gatherings, melted into those boiling sands. We watched children playing, jumping rope, playing tag, chunking rocks, shooting marbles. Circling is just another waiting. We watched the numbers on the elevator for proof of time. We chased birds from your fields. They’d return, searching among the grains for your strength, your wisdom in their beaks. We read the searing prose in the eyes of those you would have hated. We followed the river. Your history passes by there. We held the babies you'll never know. Held them tight, sang low. Word by word, we watched their minds churn like the river, their bodies explode like galaxies. Played that music hard on high cheekbones. Knew the poetry in their young chests, ripe with needings and wantings and holdings. Find us please, in our prayers. Find us please, our prayers. Find us please, in your prayers.

(for tom gipson)