The wet street looks like hammered tin.
The streetlights say ‘O’ in the mist.
Be sweet, be sweet!  The meat lifts up its skirt of skin
and underneath is what we feared:
a candle with a sliver beard.


The cry of birds.
Do they cry.
Sensing something.
We don’t know what they sense.
Or the glossy ants.
Things are taken from us.
They eat.
I can make the shadow of the alligator with my hand.
It is senseless and perfect.
Perfect to talk to.
I can give it a high voice.
It does not eat.
Does song change things.
Everywhere; everything; bothpower.
Able to change things.
Absurd to say song does not change things.
Can drink the Bible.
Lie on your back in the grass drinking the Bible.
Have suddenly something to say.
Say, Drown me where I lie, liar.
Say, Feed face names.
Truth, everywhere, everything, making it bulge.
Simplicity is difficult.
It feels like getting clearer.
Songless as the goldfish.


“ Dante the damned know the future but not
the present.”
N. Frye


The Murder Burger
is served right here.
You need not wait
at the gate of Heaven
for unleavened death.
You can be a gonner
on this very corner.
Mayonnaise, onions, dominance of flesh.
If you wish to eat it
you must feed it.
“Yall come back.”
“You bet.”


When it’s night,
and the silver and black water
crawls all over itself,
and the neighbor’s unfinished garage
is a boned whale in the moonlight,
and around the kerosene lanternis a second lantern of bugs,
I take three beers onto the porch
and stretch out on the plastic lounger
to watch the Absolute
on its hands and knees in the mud.


“Will I ever
Be a flame
In paint?

Will I ever
Make the brain
My T-bone steak?

Will I ever
Make of murder
Something safe?

Will the canvas
Ever yield
The Real

To me?  I do not
Think I think
I will.

Will the flys
Always bejewel
My rare filet?

Will I ever
Like the weather
Drink my fill?”


I lay on a quilt on the lawn
Drinking my bright black Coke.
Tanya played with the dog
and Carlene with Billy Bob,
and the men sat on the porch,
three orange cigars,
and the women in aprons came to the screens,
wiping their hands like moths.


Cherries, blackred and wet,
glassy cleavage,
like two scars married.  God
I’ve got a lot of cherries
yet to bury.

A cherry merchant strolling by
offered my brown dog cherry pie.
I tore a switch from the cherry tree
and it got hard.
I thought my stripped white switch would starve.

Mouths for money,
mouths for hoots,
I switched dogs
enroute, and by my wits
cornered the market
on cherry pits.

That was then.
Now I’m ripening
toward synthesis, like two feet
dancing to the tune,
Cherry Sweet, Cherry Deep, Lord
I Got Cherries Yet To Weep.


I met a huge goose who walked
dripping from the little pond
straight toward me one morning
on big gold gooselegs
and the eyes of a colt and stuffed trousers.
I held out my hand: Stop!  But it did
not fathom and kept coming and
I felt the chill of the Actual
nearing.  Its beak was orange
and its sloping white hugeness that tapered
behind it rocked as it walked up
as tall as my belt.
I backed up, and thought: If this were a dream
it would be a nightmare.  I was afraid.
What frightened me was not the goose,
but the gooseness.



The sun flashes on the lake
through the mimosa in which
the swallowtail butterfly pulses
like an eye in the hole of a mask.


I go to the dump with my uncle and father.
O Light, mangler of cowards, placer
of the moth in the spiral,
let the rainshower fall on the cow
with the speckled haunches,
on the icily burning trash,
on the potato-colored men under the shadetree
by the pickup:   “These yur gloves?”
No and Yes.


My father-in-law is carving
the bust of my dead daughter in apple.
It sits on a high shelf in a houndstooth hood
like a head to be hanged.
Drink that strawberry cola, boy, that footlong ruby
in the blinding shade.
An inchworm crawls through the broom by my chair:
image of menace; could chew through the nuclear;
grandchild of a needle.
Everything south of this chair is gnats.
The juicy-rumped fly will inspect my sweetroll forever.
The cow makes milk in its body.
Though I knew it was a mirage,
I took my trunks.  Go   Jaguars   Go,
said the bumper.


There’s the sand handsome Lem
is buried in.  Pity Lem, who dropped
dead in the mimosa shade, for not
even one of our sins.


The woman at the flea market
with the orange juice cans
in the blown candy of her hair
sitting in the folding chair under the mimosa
said:   “Then this other old gal come over
and starts a fight with this other old...”
Pitiful Pearl, stuffed with stockings, red thread grin.  Ah,
father, these heathen christians sellings hammers
and padlocks and dolls and sno cones
are parodies of men,
they eat the unplucked hens of horror, and borrow
each other’s murder weapons, and their women carry
knives in their girdles to marry you with,
and they dip down into the vat of minnows
with their nets and bring up exactly
one sizzling dozen, and the concrete
issues from the nozzles of their trucks, and they pull the hose
lewdly, yanking the venom, milking the bubble
from the pump, kick it!, for theirs is the heathen
charity, the kindness that cleaves the violence, when it comes,
and Come It Does.


Down by the chainlink fence
the purple sixfoot irises stand,
some bulging innards through the sheathe they’re in,
some dangling the old flower’s rotted cloth,
sort of like Martians
pausing between gulps of human thought
to stare into my uncle’s yard and
bark, boy, bark.



We drag the trailer across the blacktop in the rain.
The trash is burning in the rain.
The asparagus ferns are a mass of crystal
as though the yard were holding its brain in its hands.
At night the moon
in the outhouse door
is full of stars.
You do not live in that birdhouse.
You are not that ceramic cardinal.
So stop crying.


This is a partial theocracy.
A pickup with a cane in the gunrack.
Sno Ball Here.
The grief of the gravel.


There must be more to this place
than the bloodweed beside the road
and the armadillo squashed out of its armor
on it.
In wholeness: the moral equivalent of the horseapple.
In candor: the rain’s nudity.
There must be.


The duck has eaten the spider.
What luck that I should witness.
Cluck of the caged hen, poo-poo
of the dove, rustle of the parakeet,
rattle of the True Love Pigeon
with the forelock of gold.


No one is listening.
Now you may sing the selfsong,
as the bird does, not for territory
or dominance,
but for self-enlargement.
Let something
come from nothing.
Pick up the brain by the hair and put it in the burning rain.
Make Iago wrong.


If you have nothing to say
the words never end.
“Scared to death.”  “Is it hot enough for you?”  “Chilled to
  the bone.”


I row out to the electric tower
and tie up.  Night and the lake are one.
In the slip the boats
bump the nailed tires.
The small clear loneliness is mine.
Again I ache to slide from my body.
The lures lie naked in the tackle box.
I envy them.  Above me the tower to which I am tied
is “singing.”  I slip over the edge of the boat
into the cold water and wait
for one of the gods to take me by the hair
and pull my body off me like a nightgown.


Here lies what is left of me,
The rest is mystery.


Ignore thyself.