tombstone (poem 20150514)

the clouds wandered in
while i was eating
distracted by all the carbs
and the waitresses’ uniforms
at the saloon
i managed to make it
across the street in time
to see a single finger of lightning
touch the ground
out beyond the town
thunder rolled into me
like i was made of dried wood
and the drops fell heavy and fat

old silver mining town
more famous for murder
washed for the moment clean

gold and ghosts (poem 20160513)

the mining town is full of ghosts
phantom families drifting
from shop to shop
buying ice cream
that evaporates in this heat
ghost workers and tour guides
repeating their lines on a loop in
this rough and disheveled tourist trap
not even the original town
recreated with old haunted wood
spirit that i am
i pay my money for the mine tour
and the train ride
and wish for a real ghost
to glide out of the shadow
of the mountain

on visiting the grand canyon (poem 2060512)

it was a cute mnemonic to remember
how the grand canyon was formed
over millions of years

DUDE–deposit, uplift, downcutting, erosion

standing at the edge
(there are very few places with rails)
you can see the strata where layer upon layer
settled in an ancient ocean
each line is an ancient mouth whispering

how many people go over the edge?
(i hear the question, and voice it myself)
a dozen on average in a year
usually someone trying to get a good photo

but it is the whisper, you see
we’ve done it all for you, is what it says
taken on the burden of it all
and you can just let go

arizona (poem 20160511)

in a safeway checkout line
a husband and wife
she argues
with the checker about
a two for one deal on something
steaks, i don’t know
i’m too busy focusing on the man’s eyes
crazy and glassy
i’ve seen them before
meth eyes
brain damage eyes
eyes too open
stuck on the surprise setting
but so unfocused
a truck could run him down and he wouldn’t know
until he tried to stand up
yet
he is the one not arguing
saying okay as he emerges from a fog
and pays the bills
while his wife angrily shoves food
in the bags
and walks off

Poem 20150521

the climb is vertical at points
an unforgiving drop to the left

the swithbacks make this a hike
rather than a climb
but my shoes are not made for this
slipping on dirt-caked stones
sliding over loose stones

and my clothes are not made for this
jeans heavy and hot and tight
and not good for the long strides
that i have to make

and i am not made for this
old and out of shape
dripping with sweat
panting in this elevation
legs shaking with the effort
all these flights of stairs
made of oxidizing sandstone

the lizards scuttle out of my way
it isn’t hard to imagine a grasshopper
flying at my face
catching me off balance
and sending me over the edge

this doesnt happen

the summit is flat and covered in scrub
junipers and pine dead and thriving
and agave dying and sending
it blossoms to the sun
is this it? i think
until i break through the heavier growth
and reach the rim

my last breath
as my old self
the self that started
up the mountain trail
his last breath powers a laugh
and i have to learn
how to breathe
with my new lungs
this new air