The Pursuit Of

we real cool

we beat slow

mellow flow hold

the fluidity at a

decibel of a syllable

go

vent

we street meat

in the belly

we brew steady heavy

live accents &

accidents

 

Self Evident

It’s not so much the truth that bothers

Truths like lies

can sometimes shift

so whether they’re spat or whispered

they’ll always unfold

It’s the lying that kicks up the brick dust

The you can lie to them, we all do it

We’re all a them to someone

Where honesty hung off the tongue ready to dive

there’s only omission

a clean unwillingness

to break down and be an outright liar

Cowardly, feverish, but ready

my truth will lay in wait in trenches of jowls

Let the world have it

when necessary

when commanded

until then

Fuck’em my shit is self evident

The Secret Explanation Of Where Poems Come From

If ever you are in the room with those

Lost in the reverie of poetry

And struggling to guide their thoughts, they close

Their seeking eyes to help them better see;

If ever you have watched a poet’s face

Composing line within a world inside

No other soul can witness nor divide;

Then you are not alone in wond’ring, “Where,

While all their flesh and blood on Earth remains,

Do poets take their thoughts before they bare

Them back transformed? Where is a poem’s domain?”

This verse will not reveal from whence it came,

And poets–they write poems to explain.

–Allan Wolf

–from “Medusa”

Dammit, Athena, take away my father’s gold. Send me away

to live with lepers. Give me a pimple or two.

But my face. To have men never again be able to gaze

at my face, growing stupid in anticipation

of that first touch, how can any woman live like that?

How will I be able to watch their warm bodies

turn to rock when their only sin was desiring me?

All they want is to see me sweat. They just want

to touch my face and run their fingers through my…

my hair

is it moving?

By Patricia Smith

Soul Search

why do you let them?

come and leave?

like them and

love you, too?

what is the reason

behind settling for

sticks and stones?

for dimming your glow?

how come half their heart

is good enough for all or

your soul?

you bend back and break

bones for themin your home–

and yet they are allowed to stay

and make a mess of you.

why do you let them?

by Alex Elle

To Tin Men

To the man who made

the tin men with no hearts

you tinkerer

no love of your own

so you built them to entertain you with pretty lies

and oily smiles

but the glassy wax on his eyes

gives away the show

what if one had went rogue and ripped out Dorothy’s

while she was still breathing

so desperate from his manufactured affection

like food he swallows

or the words he mechanically bellows

all hollow

To the builder bent over

precariously at his bench making metal men in

his own image

to pry open the ribs of others

and take love wherever given

how dare you force life on

this dead scrap of bolts

then bid him sing and dance

 

History

 
Where cloudbursts tore a gash
in the shoulder of the ridge,
uprooting ferns and hedge,
a maple and an ash,
a honeysuckle vine
and wires of gold ground pine,
the slide exposed a vein
of mica, groundhog den,
a zone of luminous clay,
revealing rocks like teeth,
a seam of yellow earth,
and brought to light of noon,
after half a millennium,
there in the mud, a shining
coin of the Spanish king.
by Robert Morgan

Crossing New Mexico with Weldon Kees

1. Santa Fe
“The walls are old,” he says.
I turn in the plaza and nod to Weldon Kees,
his face as dark as the cool shadows
that surround us, walls keeping him
safe, honoring his silence, though
he comes to me to be led away.

 

“The mountains out there are not old,”
he claims and slips his hands into his coat.
We cross the street, each Indian blanket
on the ground holding jewelry I would love
to touch, but Kees and the Navajo man
selling his crafts are whispering to the ground.

 

Kees surprises me by entering the Museum of Arts.
I follow him, the stone floor ringing with
our footsteps, empty arches blending above.
Kees stops and turns to me.
“One can see only so much,” he says.

 

He leads me to the twisted dwarf,
the tangles form of faith and death,
arrows bristling from its muscled body,
a sacrifice of the ugly encased in glass,
Kees staring at the sculpture as if
he knows why we really can’t see it.
He points to the deepest arrow
and places a hand on my shoulder.
“When you believe this, you are home,”
he tells me and walks out.

 

2. Albuquerque
The Sangre de Cristo mountains are old
and he is driving my car to the highest ridge,
the valley below avoiding the bright moon,
the same white light in the bay Kees wanted
to touch before he left.

 

“Mist and clouds are a lie,” he claims.
“Look down there. Men are running away.”
He drives slowly to the top and we get out,
the autumn sun burning terraces into scrub
cedars and piñon pines he wrote about
when he crossed here long ago,
standing on the edge of the cliff
as if this is the only way for him to go.

 

“Look past what you want to see,”
he sighs as the wind takes his slick hair
and makes him into someone
I have seen before, the streets of
Albuquerque down there as dusty
as his closed eyes.

 

We stand on the edge and I wait
at this elevation with Kees who wrote
that the towns we will not visit are
places where home truly lies.
“I must go,” he decides.
“Where to?” I ask.
“Anyplace you haven’t seen,” he says,
and walks down the mountain.

 

3. Tyuonyi
Kees and I are happy when the sun
splits the tree for a moment because
yesterday controlled this mountain dawn,
burning mud deeper into the adobe.
Cottonwoods catch fire here, give
the people time to hide inside turtle shells,
though they come out to watch us.

 

I stop as the drawings come to life
under the arches, symbols familiar
to those who sleep by crossing
the street each night.
As I stare, I realize a man who
diappears wants to understand
and not hide, yet the designs
tempt me to walk in the wrong
direction and leave him behind.
To go farther up would mean
a canyon where I have been.

 

A dirt street inside another path,
tiny houses falling back,
letting me pass beyond their
locked doors, as if the smoking
windows know where I must go.
When I enter the placita, the old
woman is not there because this
is about bringing Kees back.
The dirt street opens to the last
scorched tree breaking out of walls
to shade what can’t be blessed, its
branches confusing until their cracks
enter the ground in search of peace.

 

4. Santa Maria
Water disappears to settle as clear glass
that contains memories of thirst,

 

the ancient hole found in the ruins,
Kees’ hand keeping the others from skimming

 

the surface of the still water, reaching
to be alone under the mountain wall,

 

though eyes that watch have seen this before,
men entering and never coming out.

 

One hand keeps the other from touching the surface.
Pulling back allows the echo of falling rocks,

 

the deep swimmer breaking through walls
to emerge on the other side of the well

 

where the first figures to emerge in centuries are
sitting and rubbing sand over their wet, shivering bodies.

 

5. Fort Selden
Kees is getting tired in the desert heat
and sits on a historic slab of western settlement,

 

this old fort a museum where thirsty men
come to drink from the bitter well.

 

Kees smokes too many cigarettes
and shakes his head at me,

 

“Look at the moth and the deep iris in your garden
because the equation I found in San Francisco

 

is an eclipse drawn on paper
by my trembling hands.”

 

He pauses and takes a drag, my head bathed
in sweat and confusion as he coughs this,

 

“It is too late because jazz has gone away.
I placed a stone deity of a bird next to an eggplant

 

on my desk, its smooth purple skin as significant
as the gathering of birds in your head,

 

their chirping coming from sorrow,
even from the bay where I never told a lie,

 

though the grand steps lead to the burned church
where the musicians used to trace my forehead.”

 

I stare at him and he tosses smoke on the ground
because we are close to home.

 

6. El Paso
Kees waits at the bus station
in my hometown.
We cannot go farther because
the border here is out there and as violent
as the reasons he disappeared
in San Francisco a long time ago.
I want to tell him who I think he is,
but I grew up here and must hide
how things have really been,
drawing the light off the mountains
as if the doubters of history are simply
starving boys offering to shine Kees’
shoes on the corner of Paisano Street.

 

My hometown has a bridge,
but Kees won’t go near it because
he says to cross it would be
to admit there is something wrong
on the other side of my family’s house.
He can never cross because
we have found our way here,
El Paso dreaming its population
of mute men must keep growing
because the border keeps taking
too many of them away.

 

Kees looks at the bus schedule,
runs out of cigarettes
and everything is closed.
He nods at nothing and waits
on the bench with someone
he swears looks like me.
–Ray Gonzalez