17 April 2k9
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 asphalt 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 for the first time 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 Fairview:
I smell acrid fear on you,
all too familiar to me—
the burnt, 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.
There 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 the cops will never come;
as if you are bleeding out fast
and I cannot reach you.
Weeping, you are nearly silent
making only frightened
panting steam into air, grasp for fresh air.
chuffing through splayed nostrils—
Leave me alone.
He’ll see me.
Just go away.
iii. What I said to the Soldiers
hanging out on 4th. Avenue
looking for a good time
chugging two-dollar beers
in rock-bottom bars.
They smoke out on the sidewalk
basking under a dusky sun
as if they own its fire
and all it patriotically falls upon.
Their sense of entitlement
swollen and swinging
between their legs;
their common sense
shriveled and scarce,
hiding in their bellies
under all that sour beer:
They decide it might be amusing
to block a cripple’s way.
Snickering malicious smiles
frame bright, orderly teeth.
They look like menacing green insects
beneath blank black sunglasses.
Where you goin’ gimp? Asks one.
Down this sidewalk, I answer,
and point through a buzzing knot
of clammy muscle and adrenalin.
You sure? Asks another.
Yeah, pretty sure.
I reply and begin
a can of bear mace.
Smiles fall from faces
behind shiny shades.
One or two look as if
they would like to be
holding a gun.
Well, let the man through,
last soldier says, reptilian,
drooling venomous sarcasm.
In his voice runs the
unmistakable undertone of
—I’ll see you later…
Get bent, you fucking mercenary.
I answer, and roll through their
abruptly deflated gauntlet.
Neck flesh crawling
with the bugs of their blank glares;
it is better not to listen
to the silence in my wake.
I push harder.
Better let it go,
’cause ya can’t ride a slut
with your face all fucked up.
First soldier says to last
to restore mirth and morale
in the American Way.
To hell, boys—
you can go straight to hell.
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 eyed, 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,
clearly thinking that this was not part
of the sales package of The Great Land—
I roll, an iceberg obstacle, in front of these
delicate daytrippers of the Last Frontier.
Gawking with their cameras a-dangle,
ready for capturing the richness
of Four-Leg wildlife;
certainly not for poor,
I obstinately blockade their progress.
Until, along with me, they must listen
to the ruckus-rap-rhythms of these young
Native-Alaskans and African-Alaskans
whom have wooed me from E.E. Cummings.
I want to growl at these vapid visitors,
flay them with the hairy eyeball.
I want to snarl that: This is Alaska!
And these beautiful, sleek, Two-Legs,
who pop sharp rhymes between them,
with words aflame like lit sparklers,
these are the Children of Alaska.
Author’s Note: a version of part 3 appears on the page Body Hammer, wherein I explain how that poem was written and the special conditions from which it sprang. Please see that before feeling I have disrespect for all who sacrifice to Serve our nation, far from it…no, just these disgraceful men in particular. Thank you.