17 April 2k9
In Anchorage Tonight~
i: Chinook wind
Chinook wind knows nothing of a shooting in Fairview;
gustful, she lifts the curtain of night’s mystery away.
Reveals concrete-box buildings capped with dirty snow
and tar ribbons, frozen yet running, at their feet:
Cop lights swarm and nightclothed people gather
at the cordoned off edges of a tragedy;
One more kid lying in a pool of police procedure.
There is not much more than yellow caution tape fluttering
Playful in Chinook wind—which knows nothing
of gunpowder or methamphetamines—
Separating one group from the other,
separating gunned down son from undone mother.
Until this moment he did not know what it meant
to be ‘made cold by the universe’.
Clinging cold; as the black bottom of a river in winter
he is learning what it means to be truly lonely.
Knowing solves nothing. Right now, and all that came before,
crash together—beneath him the pavement feels warm.
ii: go away
I have found a scared woman
coiled tightly upon herself
head in hands,
at temples like two dazed birds
fallen from the nest.
She hunches between old cars
rusting forlorn, in a junk strewn lot,
hiding where she might not be seen.
staring not seeing
until it is far, far too late
this barbaric scene
unfolding in my neighborhood—
I smell toxic fear on you,
the acrid, copper taste
of his gasping grip
the spine breaking
compression of his weight
in you, all around you,
pushing out the last dregs of air,
leaving only sour panic.
Pushing, tearing for your insides.
He wants to push you out.
He wants to scrape your shell clean,
leaving nothing inside but
the awful residue of his sick self.
—when I asked
if you needed help
you did not answer,
but crept quiet to the
other side of a derelict car
and hugged arms
‘round your body
until you were tightly closed,
as a dayflower at midnight.
I sit on my wheels,
wretched and helpless; it feels
as if you are bleeding out fast
and I cannot reach you.
Weeping, you are nearly silent
making only frightened
pant at the air, grasp at the air,
chuffing through splayed nostrils—
leave me alone
he’ll see me
just go away
iv: Sparkler Rhythms
At the Bus Transit Center
laughing profanity cuts through
the traffic; suddenly comes a starburst
of street rhymes, bantering beats,
and secret statements of individual
power in the face of all this…
Passing lines back, forth,
in the symbolspeak of
young and rebellious poor
—yet (if only they knew it)
staggeringly rich with life.
Laughing rhymes of elegant,
cynical, ease finally shake me out of Cummings
(Oh, how you would love
this new world, Estlin)
and, curious, I stop to listen.
I sit both alienated, yet unafraid
of their honed, measuring stares;
peering at me in the wheelchair
with dark, old-world,
inquisitive gaze behind
the smoke of my pipe.
Their raucous fun has frightened
a gaggle of tourists—who sort of fucking
deserve it, with their disdainful, upside-down smiles,
clearly thinking that this was not part
of their vision of a Beautiful Alaska—
I roll, obstacle-like, in front of these
delicate daytrippers of the Last Frontier.
Gawking with their cameras a-dangle,
ready for capturing the richness
of FourLeg wildlife;
certainly not for poor,
I want to blockade their progress.
Until, along with me, they must listen
to the ruckus-rap-rhythms of these young
Native-Alaskans and African-Alaskans
which have wooed me from E.E. Cummings.
I want to grumble at these vapid visitors,
flay them with the hairy eyeball.
I want to snarl that: This is Alaska!
And these beautiful, sleek, TwoLegs
who pop sharp rhymes between them,
their words aflame like lit sparklers,
these are the Children of Alaska.