Infectious Youth (A fond tribute)

Eternally bleeding from the knife-edge spaces
in the library stone-steps
with breadcrumb-words and apostrophes; donning academic dress and fraternal order,  bursts the young, firm mind, unkempt in cavalcades of originality, dine and dash texts combined with a self-assured intellectuality sponsored by apple curves and way.

Fenced in the wasteland, calculated by the Pound,
price of admission paid
(for future-former associations).
They come:
emanating spring and
dispersing a repetitive freshness
in the wake of their
passage with devastating
sprays of drive-by stanzas.

Herein they go,
rambunctiously dismissive, pleasantly delusional,
(life inebriated, weaves
and sideswipes experience).
Galloping effortlessly through,
with sweater, letter and currency.
Hobnobbing
robbing and rhyming
schooled and appealingly fooled.
An infectious energy and worse,
we find ourselves in the
precocious lines of their
reconstituted verse.

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Great Basin Plants

Regardless of the hour,
concrete culverts funnel
their noxious fumes upward
in unapologetic clouds.
They canker
the stretch marks
of great basins,
where the Bonneville ranges
heave like hard-rock breasts
and salt flats
rest between them.
They seem
to have absorbed
the curious tears of Lot’s wife
long ago when she harked back
to rough-scrabble elevations.

Even the Bristlecone pine
imperceptibly snake
their chapped roots
down through basalt fissures
and twist into the altitude
in tortured angles,
dismember the eons
before Pony Express riders
galloped across sprawling
high desert vales
beating out
a common time signature,
winding through the Four-winged
Saltbush,
dodging the spiny Shadscale.

Alkaline expanses
tickled by the wheeze
of gingham skirts and spun
wagon wheels, easily blanched
the broken frames of the dead
to accommodate
their deserted efforts.

More recently,
salt processing plants and toxic
waste incinerators are long-mile
neighbors up wind
from the army depot,
peppered truck stops
and the copper mine slag-heaps.

Rinsed in a halogen-sapphire light
after the sun gives up the ghost,
monolithic smokestacks bolk
a steady exhaust.
It diagonals
and dissipates in secreted
melancholy burnings
offered up to the isolated
and inhaled by the sparkling
seven sisters, reduced
to semi-precious stones
worn above a vacancy.

Underneath it all,
radioactive wastes
buried inside vinyl-lined landfills
live out their quiet half-lives.

Pelican

He stands, body of an immense, whitewashed
soup tureen supported by mustard
bamboo limbs jutted
out in twin tangerine webs
of lizard-skin fans.
Heaped hanging dishes of raw
Indonesian black rice along with the white
jasmine variety
against his sides, are folded wings
below his peeled, boiled egg
of a head dotted with opposing eyes.
They swivel, long terminated
on a neck of fat albino-copperhead
snaked-circumference
almost bent into a figure eight
while he sleeps with his acrobatic
nape against his back.
His bill is an arm-length
by a four-finger width
of a marigold funnel,
intersecting his frontal view
over blizzards of breast feathers.
This concludes in a single-beak talon
sissoring a three gallon collapsible pouch.
All skeletal hollow inner workings are engineered
to absorb the tension hidden in an aquatic surface.
He is unaware of the myths
of self sacrifice assigned to him
and spun by our need to elevate behavior.
Folklore doesn’t affect his flight or fishing
nor does the symbolism of blood and water.

Hieroglyph

Unwinding, hissing, passing eons out,
ballooning flapped, elastic: time’s disease.
The years deflated under winter drought,
while oceans were reduced to antifreeze.
Through complicated wars of circumstance,
in heat and dust, a few survived. Though stiff
at first, our body-language did advance
and printed verse became a hieroglyph
and sneezed. Exotic font and serif said
it all, to modern scholars looking back
from Times New Roman, Palatine, instead
of Courier, Papyrus, Copper Black.
The future pouring over poems found
the curvature of letter minus sound.

 Wet Drive


The valleys stretch
and bow away
and I
unzip the land
in swaths
and glean the backdrop.
A blind-stitched
highway sewn
beneath
the sky with I-15’s
cats-eye and miles of blacktop.

Cartooned
through cobalt clouds,
the bands of light
are breaking prisms
caught reposed in angles.
The hoodoo
hanging vertically,
ignite
a multicolored
slab of rainbow
dangle.

No arc or ends,
the swatch above
a wide
parabola of sage
is flanked by storm,
dissolves and passes
on the driver’s side;
my weather
dropped from lashes,
rolls down
warm.

Digesting Gravity

We frittered our conversation away
on the brittle edges of selective
vocabulary. Words, pale and objective,
hung like sheets over clan members,
hovered foamy on the pushed tide
of pretense and squatters rights.

Familiarity was the carcass
of a wooly mammoth
we were stepping gingerly over
with verbs and run-on sentences.

In this public place, where once
we had whispered over flapjacks,
flirted around a breakfast scramble,
we met in a back booth
to discuss the terms
of our convenient disentanglement
above a final waffle
dusted with powdered sugar.

Some maple syrup got stuck on the
edges of papers we were so civilly editing
and for a moment we slipped
on the softened ice of easy banter.

Just then, gravity
forgot itself in the small café.
All of the cups and saucers
lifted with the silverware,
the apron on a waitress
floated up a bit…

Whipped egg whites of reconsideration
appealed with a weightlessness,
but the side of regret
was inedible.

Body/Parts

His fingers were 10
oil-stained paint brushes,
soaking up turpentine
in a mason jar.
His fists were crumpled
Pall Mall packages,
banked from the lip
of a waste paper basket
and collected on the floor
in cellophane clutches.
His neck was a damp bar-towel,
half twisted and slung diagonally
across a red-vinyl stool.
His jaw was a swaying screen door,
finding its true level on a set of hinges.
His cheek bones were the curtain-brushed sills
beneath open apartment windows.
His eyes were not the iron marbles
bouncing off of bumpers
and racking up pinball points.
His forehead wasn’t a smooth
gallon-jar of pickled eggs
set beside the cash register
and his feet were not a needle’s movement
after one side of an album.
His legs however,
were the long rails of green felt,
hugged by an eight-ball,
all the way into the corner pocket.