On Monarch Summit, Colorado
searching for Townes Van Zandt
Having travelled east
all morning along the Gunnison,
Townes’ song, “Snowin’ on Raton”
comes on the car radio, and
I notice once again
those ghosts I saw miles back,
waiting in cold rain to cross, on the
muddy streets of long-ago Montrose.
And ghosts of a few bandits,
long dead but still afraid to leave, maybe
to meet victims on the other side, and
a few loyal dogs, cold and wet,
no longer really expecting their masters, and
some horse ghosts waiting still
for riders who offered apples and rubdowns.
I search through all the ghosts,
but Townes Van Zandt isn’t there.
I find only lopsided smiles singing his songs,
and wonder, could it really snow on Raton
this late into summer?
Howl Again in Seattle
Allan Ginsberg walked into the Blue Moon Saloon and chose the
very next stool at the bar where I sat with a glass of Red Hook, reading a book and,
rubbing his hand across the baldness of his Buddhist head, he said
another vision had brought him back from the dead, and
as we sipped our beers, he talked and I stared straight ahead.
It was Friday afternoon right here in America.
Allan’s vision came from the east, like a beast at the feast,
laying waste in poor taste as it moved with haste and chased
reason into hiding, frightening the fools in backyard pools, while
Americans left their balls in the shopping malls and
brotherhood left the neighborhood, moving out in the night.
So relax and enjoy it, Allen. This is America.
Just back from the beyondo, Allan said peddlers of the condo were
winking and grinning to the heat of that condo beat, singing a condo songo,
“condo disco, condo disco, disco condo from Staten to Redondo” and
all the dudes drove hummer cars, with stars from titty bars riding alongo
just as longo as the money holds out, but the mysterious hitchhiker still waits.
Get hip, Allen. This is how Americans do it.
Allan said he saw the statue of liberty drunk on her knees,
puking pizza made of plastic cheese from feedlot cows, topped with
sausage from tortured sows while phony farmers took their bows
for feeding us fake food from rows and rows of factory farms and
the farmers demanded, in an underhanded way that campesinos stay invisible.
We need your labor but we don’t need you. Welcome to America.
He saw students with reportcards listening in schoolyards while
military short hairs sat in lawn chairs, explaining how the training of
killers and blood spillers who cross the oceans carrying flags and
return to their parents in body bags, leaving grieving for the ay-rabs and
children in rehabs adjusting to new limbs is all for the good of freedom.
How did our oil get under your soil? We want it here in America.
He spoke with alarm of trees growing in rows like corn on a farm and
poison spray coating all the apples while folks file quietly into the chapels
to sit down in rows for the preaching and in schools the teaching says
be like the others and rat on your brothers but if you get outta line they write notes
to your mother who’s too busy to bother, then the TV comes on and everyone’s quiet.
Hey, we’ve got a counselor in a box. We’re Americans.
Friday afternoon would be over soon when Allen sat near to order his beer, and as evening’s crowd came in, Allen’s voice was lost in the din so then he began fading away but he stayed long enough to tell me he’s not mad but rather he’s glad to be gone when he sees what’s been done in this land where the sun shone so brightly before, then he paused at the door to say he sees those best minds howling still and Allen said he saw the so-called powers who sit on their asses during business hours looking down from window sills of office towers at our urban ills while street smart saints make pledges on rooftop edges, workmen with wornout tools looking toward another world where light shines and love rules, standing at the edge and sometimes leaping only to fall weeping onto the hardscrabble among the rabble where the voice of eternity shouts back forever, “What other world? What other world? What other world? What other world?”
foggy night, late,
fog parting away
from your face,
closing again behind
as you enter deeper,
steps echoing against
opaque, moist air,
palpable, rich in lungs,
cool on exposed skin,
softening, blurring borders
between this and that
until meeting another, somewhere inside the fog
somewhere inside the night,
you forget which one