Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Dutch Flat, 1877

I used to wake up screaming in the pine-
pitch night, as if someone was kissing my throat
with a Bowie knife,

when all the old ghosts would converge around the cabin.

Maybe some children never are children at all,
we just play dress up in the hats of the dead,

tough it out until the coursing
of time catches up with us.

I slept in a bed where a stove was once,
in a house atop the ashes of a house,

old Chinatown burnt down in 1877,
but Grandpa didn't care.

We spread his ashes among the ashes
and another ghost red-rovered on
into the fray.

I sure loved that copse of hostile trees, 
sure loved those bramble wounds

I sure loved that cramping fear of tetanus 
as we'd wade through the old mine shaft,

beneath its curtain of bats, and out to the searing 
day sun. 

I am as grateful as a dog.

I am as grateful as a dog,
and will you please apply some direct
pressure to my forehead with that

strong square hand?

Even with the cliffs torn as they are
by the old hydraulic method,

the broken acre and the broken china
and the abandoned opium pipe,

still I'm buckled by the sweetness
of your muscles.

You are

as sweet as hot dirt, as sweet as a canyon.
As sweet as noon,

almost smelling of mosquito spray

and I am grateful as a dog
with my eyes of leaves
and my tongue of chalk

I just tremble
I'm gonna break like morning




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