I. The Road
Swiss army knife by the Colorado Chiquito.
Wallet in a tavern Coeur d’Alene.
Frying pan near campground washroom Flaming Gorge.
Good insulated gloves a daytime snowsquall,
in the scree field Jasper Peak.
Lost things. Things misplaced,
a moment put aside and then forgot. Now Shiprock disappears,
Tohatchi, Mexican Spur... Brimhall also gone.
The turn to Chaco Canyon.
dire wolf skulls
barbed wire breasting the sage
Mercy wears thin
at 65, rooting the
peach tree orchards out.
Eighteen miles of mountain road
fifteen miles of sand,
ever I travel this road again I’ll be a married man.
Over Ute Mountain blue thunderclouds,
yellow lightning ploughing the gorge.
Why do we handle people rough? Take the same wrong turn
again? And foolish human never learns.
Everywhere you go it’s people die, not crickets.
Crickets never die, just people.
De Angulo heard the sharp refrain.
Old as ice it’s in his book.
Humans got regret. Not magpie.
Wisdom old as ice.
A hunch’d locust drags along the dried up creek.
Grasshopper returns when sun gets hot.
Not people. Grasshopper always
People just head west.
chewing at the tape deck
like a worn out clutch.
wind stirs the willows
the cliffsides ringing...
Ghost dance songs
1963 1952 1917
Years of the twentieth century
scratched on Chaco cliff with careless hand.
Did highschool kids in love
make trouble with the law, get sent to war?
like I saw friends in sixty-eight?
And marked the date with Arab numbers in New Mexico?
Now peach tree orchard, willow also gone.
But glance across where horseshoe canyon wavers dust &
shivery daytime heat––
Old journey spirals up on rock ––
spooky people figures
with curl-horn sheep.
IV. Roadhouse Blues
The roadhouse sign is scraped and cracked––
coffee thin in dirty cups––
was Albuquerque once like this––?
Trading whiskey for a good unbroken pot.
What dried it up? What made them leave?
Cliff-top signal fires give a clue.
A hundred thousand trees for lumber Chaco Canyon.
Water channeled from the rim above. And in the Great Kiva
who wore copper beads? Did macaw feathers come
by pack from Yucatan?
Along the creek––ghost creek now––
a lover plays his turkey leg-bone nose flute.
Ghosts make love in creekside rushes,
inventing poems where ghost birds stride on
You keep score––
tossing for luck
V. The Petroglyphs
We watched it lurch through windswept rock
a squared off fifties Chevy wagon
pecked from yellow sandstone. Ranger told us vandals put it there.
Three modern girls wandered into rock
twenty thousand moons ago.
A piece of junk’d graffito? back through years to Vietnam?
Now their vulvas look like clamshells.
High up the cliff a horn-head figure sets its
eye on other years.
A simple rite,
to set in stone––
the great kiva stretches overhead.
Study the million highway stars
lovers gone or dead
on every road.
VI. Anasazi Rock
That’s why I came this road
beneath sharp stars
where jimson weed and sand-burrs grow––
to find her rope-like hair
hair like rope, like grass, like jimson weed
ghost hair sifting through my hand. And watched
celestial figures mount the sky.
A black braid like a living ghost across the map.
Recall it falling through. The desert sky.
One more love gone down to join old thoughts.
And insects whispered through the night
it’s all a rite.
did you play me for
all night in ponchos
getting what sleep we can.
VII. Blue Roads
The great kiva
wind whispering all night
past the dumpsters––
A storage pit
high along the shadow’d cliff. Where two of us went down.
She went down. I went down. Stars went down.
Under rock or earth.
Nipples faint as apricot.
What Anasazi rock released the need?
desire drive the star-flung sky?
a nation wracked with ghosts begin its dance?
The great kiva stretches overhead.
The constellations arch with scattered love it
bends the human spine––
and funny what we need the
maps don’t show.
Just gasoline, toilets, towns with bitter distant names.
Trucks that ride blue roads.
grinding down the years
trucks that ride blue roads.