It came in salinated beads that chalked skin like mires snailtrack-dredged in the candle wax. Dreams in a tin can. An empty and dented bucket of sky blue paint that coated the walls of my childhood room, they turned yellow, soured, after the first time I saw her. That room. The lower bed of the bunk that shook and shattered us all to the floor. Colorado. I look, and I see places on television and know where they are: their infestations of elk and meth and liquor and disgruntled Mormons and, often, their poetic rock climbing. Their random forest art stacked one rock and then the other. Make the statues smooth and off-colored. None alike. All flat. All round. I stacked them taller. I spread them out across the granite near the river and I braced them with a gnarled pine knot found in the reeds; with a rusted shovel spade by the outhouse. Who knows what it was used for? or how long it had been there? and I let it all sit there a while. A stranger or the wind could come stumbling out of the forest in his winter coat and kick it down with corked boots. This I don’t know. Surly. Old. Ragged. A face that hasn't met the razor. Windblown. Scarred and afraid, he kicks that stacking back into the current and the river carries it frozen to Kansas where a great chief parts the water in Wichita, just another statue. I watch the water run through the cotton. Billowing elms. The fruits of that bark's wrinkled labor swirl after on a silver scar flowing further south. Dredged up and pulled down and dredged up. Sifted out into the sea. Swallowed and passed and swallowed and passed. The water returns to Wichita, eventually. The water that feeds the elm on the shore and the fruit falls down the way I used to think was fun in the Mondloch girl's front room. Tottering and lightheaded, hitting my head off the floor. When that stare changed I forced my fist through the dance studio window. I had the power to break and to wonder who cleaned up that glass? A sliver in a dance slipper inserted into the ball of the toddler’s foot. Who thought that was cool trying to force a forehead through the window of a Caterpillar and careened off the cat track to the street? Who jumped and tore out and screamed for what we thought of as youth, or didn't think of at all, but took in stride until we came to the wall in that stunted, damp gold mine cut into the face of granite? and what suicidal idiot? and for how long did he cut that rock? and when did he change? and where did he go? Shotgun a Keystone from the daypack and sit in the dirt. Look out, unable to stand, at a pillar blunted like a sledge. The Californian wouldn't climb any higher; what was left was very high in the air. He felt foolish for getting there, and loving it we stared down onto the river and the looped bracing tingled on the rock where the climbers set their ropes. We never played with ropes or a net. Never played for style and not for grace. Both lacked the determination to just live. Many fell along the way. We played to the copper-nerved veins running somewhere in diminished and severed bounty beneath our homes. Matter cannot be created or destroyed but it can be excavated and burned to separate what is useful. What if we are never useful? Nights we played the games, and nights we played other games driving down streets chasing a car of girls and not for kisses but to batter their sports utility vehicle in egg yolk and cracking one fat girl who would later turn out to be gorgeous in the back from a short distance with that shell. There was not a better way to flirt until one made carefully clarified a sexuality, and mine, and that put a stopper in my heart that would not let flow again passion or guilt. She poured out the fat in her hands coming like rice from a bag after the Christmas ornament crushed and stuck in the palm. She knew what an asshole was when my foot hit the back of her heels, but she forgot to register. She loved me. I look out at a sky of clouds being worked into dimples of egg carton and smoke drifts into the lungs of a huge gorilla. Who knows why he's there? and why he is smoking? but that sky looks mean and me and all of the things live under it. We never meant to be fireworks
and there is an hour on the clock waiting to leak Dalian down the wall and when it puddles it will evaporate and look like carpet, thin and pilled and treaded upon brown into brown where white was, once, and red still red, a resilient color. That of passion. Air-licked blood turned from dark black. There is not color in your body. There is darkness. A light shined through the fingertips, hand-candling an embryo, the skin a sack for bones veins muscles blood. All fluid, viscous, grinds against each other. It slides over and past and through my feet on the floor where the carpet has soaked up the hour. Here the time has passed by. Next to next to next. It becomes so pointless to point it out, or frightening, and what do you do when you are afraid of time? where do those moments go? The same old concerns with death not me not me. You. When and how and will we have lived up to our claims? The earth in circles. The river carries us farther somewhere if we let it. Lean into the currents. Summer wind chips, and the river scrapes, and weathering like shells we smooth bald and broken and slope. Physical processes. Things of deterioration. The inevitability of mountains. Hanging on until your hands break. Living in defeat. Death. My gorilla eyes slurp on the sky like plucking dough, like bunching cotton. The bones brittle and smoking. The most dangerous part of the eruption is the cloud that avalanches soot. Pyroclast that burns the tree and the roots to veins of ash running in the ground to harden into snakes of ash. Death. Memory. Carbon. The sand melted into glass. Popping sap like a honeyed bomb. The smell acute and warning over the mountains where gin is favored. It beckons me to crawl forward in that acrid black. Deception. Deceptor. Deceived. Deceased. Destroyed. The earth black. The sprout pushing through green and the burned, still and always burned, parts of them lodging in a root and feeding the new sprouts. Parts of things unboxed on the ground until no more memories linger of those buried there and the condos of the new, the highways and the passages, the rites of the living, they exhume. They crack the cement and pry the lid and then sink them in the ocean that had once lived there, and had done something inevitable. Living. Dying. Living, again. The body rotten. The bones black and cool and stinking. I read yesterday to make each day the best day because the price of time is so very high what would you not give to preserve it? I felt better that there was another part of me still burning. My moving heart. I appreciate the movements of sinew. The movements of sinew that touch my wife in the dark. The ability to feel the horrible and register the horrible and unflinching and inevitable world and make a stand there. The minority alive. The rest dead or unknowing, and there is a sadness the dead and the stone can no longer know, if they ever did. Vitality separates the dirt from that cordite-hued time sliding down the wall
so kill all that grass. If omission is a lie, the green of the grass is dishonest. Yellow grass, full of rock and shrew nest and duck and toad and snake and ice and the chigger that burrows into my wife’s ankle and the tick that bloats on the chest of my dog and the raccoons and the armadillos. How they jump when spooked. Tip on the toes. A shell and all their innards clanging around inside like die cast on the highway, but not in the field where they snuffle with rat nose, whisker-sensitive to movement in the dark. Nocturnal. Birds will live in this field, but higher up. The trees will stay. The birds dive close to my head when I get close to their nests, but they give up so easily. They resign themselves to their loss if the eggs should be crushed or touched. The abandonment of vengeance is noble. Us birds should not cling to our material objects. Abandonment, a product of the reptilian brain. Cruel. Instinctual. Rip all of it up. Bring the other crawling things. Backhoes and dumps on trucks and the cranes and the fires and the gasoline. Soak and burn. The worms dig deeper in the soil no match for the claws of the skulker. Roots twist likewise up and out and snap and groan and pile up nicely. By the morning they are gone. Foundations laid inside the holes. Lay cross sections of rebar and the essential piping and plumbing. Protect the water main in sand if the earth is prone to shift as the earth is prone to shift as the earth prone to shift shifts into your cement foundations. Shifts from a putty to a hardened lidless cube. Put a lid on it. Casing. Flooring. Framing. Floor. The south wall, the east wall, the north and the west walls. Line the interior frames with two-by-fours. Save space and demarcate windows and doorframes. Get out the nails and compressors, and rattlestamp that pine. Fixed. Fill it with insulation after the wires and the pipes, and board it in with dens-decking and drywall and lay the floor panel by panel and lay the siding panel by panel. Fill it slab by slab with cement. Pick out countertops and cabinets. The ceramic sink of dreams cracked apart with the drunkards flopping head. Dreams fail then, too, and the home, emptied, is bought and left to stand in the shadow of a grain silo. The long days extend their shadows, their shades. When was the first rock thrown and was it on target? When did the rest follow and take the windows apex by apex, sliver by sliver? The silver bath of glass awash on the sidewalks. When did the red painter come in the night, and with no talent, to accent the walls? Who was so brazen to enter? To tear down the ceilings and walls. Piled brick and stone and paper and pulp in the center of the molding floor, they fell dripping into the putty of the linoleum. The heat combusts and the glass blows completely out. One room burns to black so quickly it does not burn, but is licked by a bull’s tongue. The dozers. The trucks. The flatteners and filchers, they scrape the ground and wrap construct in blue tarpaulin. They place it in a steel hole. They fill its foundations with dirt. The green grass grows. Cicadas in the trees; one panting dog finds shade.