Monday, October 26, 2020

Before We Turned Back

“There are rattlesnakes everywhere” he says,
and so I see that there are rattlesnakes
everywhere: every twisted dead branch,
every constellation of sun-dappled gravel
is a coiled reptile. Unsteady on my feet, I trip
over the spiky heads of diamondbacks,
twist my head at every breezy rustle of the weeds.
The ridge is silent save for the distant gush
of the river far below. A hawk swoops into
the shimmering water and rises with
a wriggling steelhead. The black ears
of a coyote disappear into the brush.
A rabbit bobs across the path. The air
hangs thick with fragrant sage.
There are no trees, only scrub and fence posts.
Black beetles tick across the gravel.
Horseshoe overbites cut into the dust.
Tire tracks from mountain bikes
weave across the path.
A bullet-chewed sign warns of West Nile Virus.
He reads it an stops
and looks around anxiously,
as if searching for mosquitoes, seeing only
a broken bottle, a rusty nail.
When the sun starts to slip behind the hills,
signalling the psychopaths
to stir in their shacks,
we turn and head rapidly back the way we came,
cutting through clouds of gnats
and crackling grass eager to burn,
mincing gingerly over the writhing masses
of awakening snakes


Wednesday, October 21, 2020

To Seed

All the door handles are sticky.
We scrape our boot soles across them.
We switch bodies from time to time. For luck.
We shave off our eyebrows and bleach our hair.
We guzzle turpentine mixed with a splash of beer.
We live in the beds of our neighbors' pick-ups,
and if they holler, we kidnap their pets
and let them loose on the far side of the river.
It's all in jest. I mean, sure we wear robes,
and hoods, sure we like a good prank
as much as the next guy. Gal, whatever.
Sure, some of us are women.
Some of us wear stretchy corsets
to support our backs.
Days we spend battling crabgrass, or at least
that's what we call it. Nights we roll burning tires
down the freeway. Just like you, we go to the dentist
and file for divorce and haul the garbage
out to the curb. We don't all recycle, we don't
play board games. Poker perhaps,
especially after payday.
We know how to spread fertilizer
across a driveway. We know how to fasten
a line to a carabiner. We know what happens
when you mix laxatives and fiber.
We know rope. We know chain.
We know all about this train wreck we're hitched to.
Hell, we know where the conductor
goes for breakfast. Same place we all do.
We know where our bread is buttered. We know
it's all going to pot, going to seed.
There's a lot of fear out there, but when we're huddled
around the campfire, one of us strumming
Merle and Willie on the guitar,
none of us are afraid. None of us are going
to be afraid ever again.