My Missoula

In this small town of side walks,
sweat gets packaged and loaded
onto boxcars. 
Trains with tobacco-can wheels 
squeal under lumber.
Headstones leg out to the mills
for a sawdust embalming.
Tree-trunk arms flex in
the shot lifting seconds,
supported by a paycheck
on the promise of another round.

Four A.M. Oxford Bar Sundays; 
poker and rabbits in pockets.
Hashbrowns spit out under
keno-spliced loggers.
North garden petals
gust through saloons,
still wet from the river
of west-water whistled.
Sweet, smoky eyes,
caught in the camplight.
Lured and seduced
up in pine-under.

Big rigs to work sites, 
coin-operated forests.
Steel, painted contraptions
shave mountains into clear-cuts.
Trees splinter like wafers
under tongues in a ritual.
Wasted growth for controlled burns,
backlit by the diesel-dripped 
pyre of slash crematoria.
Logs stacked like toothpicks 
banking on the switch-backs
of paper and housing.

Genocide preserved
and bottled in reservations;
suffering like monuments
and bandaged in casinos. 
Homesteaders faded to sepia,
watch helplessly, while their
manifest destiny gets
caught-up in the barbed wire.

Elk still gazelle here on
haunted high meadows,
coyotes remind me
in screams punched at stars.
Springs bubble under patterns
of spent winter paraffin. 
Listen low for the moan 
of the dynamite tombs,
tunneled with trains
blowing evenings apology.

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