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Poetry

The sun, the darkness, the winds are listening….
—Geronimo, Chief of the Bedonkohe Apache

 

Boys, I shit you not,
it’s Oklahoma, Billy
says, the Red River

more red than river
squatted under the border bridge
like the raw ass-end

of Mars, dry skin peeled
under the flying rubber
of Billy’s bald tires.

As I drive through the
valley of death, Billy says,
I will fear no fucked-

up Okies. I read
once, he says, that the Sanskrit
word for war means we

want more cows, just like
the word for cows in Okie
means give us a kiss,

cowboy. Of things
in Oklahoma worth one
single shit there are

only three, he says,
Geronimo’s unstolen
bones, Oral Roberts
University
chromed like a starship, known to
every mother’s son

in Tulsa as Six
Flags Over Jesus and fuck
if I can recall

the other one, and
as you rattle up from red
river mud to red

sooner dirt fighting
hard to blow away into
mischance and killing

grit, the casino
lights imagine themselves as
probabilities

and constellations
of uncertain compulsions
on the flayed horizon

and you say, who’s your
daddy, now? and he says back,
who the bumfuck knows?

Could be just about
anyone, or no mother-
lovin’ one at all.

 

2.

Watch me Apache
my ass through the grass,
someone says, and goes

knees and elbows through
the stranded gravestones while you
imagine unborn

bees in six-sided
cells curled and wingless waiting
like dead Indians

still outraged and humming
in their boxes. You’re nineteen,
sick-drunk and leaning

against the cobbled
stele over Geronimo’s
grave, Oklahoma

summer midnight hot
behind your eyes and spinning
in its firmament.

You’re singing something.
You can’t remember the words,
even now. The past

is gone, peeled thin
and smeared on the back of your
eyelids like grease, black

with disappointment.
You’re singing, and from somewhere
another voice sings,

all sotto voce
coy, along with you, wispy
cricket harmony

chanting deep in the
cochlear maze in your skull
where god speaks holy

to the prophets and
the young to tell them they are
naked and weak. It

has your name, the voice,
but it is not you. In all
the many worlds, when

one electron falls
nothing makes a sound, no spin
superpositions

with a soulless click,
spukhafte Fernwirkung, because
the particle becomes

you, entangles you
with the states of the system,
which is you, too, in

your drunk-spun glory,
snapped into the hardworn place
on a chief’s tomb where

you churlish belong
and the voice, you-not-you, sings
the one note that is

the darkness without
judgment, entangled with each
gray suffering dawn.

 


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