Grade A: Dark.

Written in Albuquerque (Mesa SE), October 2000.  One of those poems that just appear and demand to be written down right away.  I’m still a little scared of it.  I’d been reading James Dickey, but god help me, it sounds more like Dylan Thomas.  I told myself at the time that it was a poem about how my recent history would’ve gone if I’d never gotten involved with Leisha Hultgren.  J— is definitely the “swept girl.”  Danny Solis suggested I change “athletic doubt” to “muscled doubt;”  I made it “muscular” because the two d’s bumped heads—but that was the only revision.  Published in my books The Closed Shrine and Wings of the Gray Moon.



Shrinking with the last moon

he gave himself gray to the ghostway

cut himself punching with chambered thighs between the thicksmelling whims of a swept girl

cut himself free from the freedom of willing law & the servant’s crouch ambiguously upright

& the servant a hidden king but hidden from himself

cut himself from a black throat calling & pink eyes cracking on asphalt

& smokestained legs that grew under night like a white weed nursing on graves


He shrank in the barrels of his curing

the ghostway a scalped nerve of spit in the mouth of the swept girl

calling with her hands bright & bitter in her armpits

the very burn of June a chill to her

& his new cock was leaping as she passed asleep in cinders & his hairs were boiling on the shoulders of his neck

he hated her with all his dying love & crept in muscular doubt to where she might be waiting for the deserts to pay court

the brown sand spires to spread their crotches


Their punched marriage was a line of beads of yellow faces

only gasping only watching

waypoints on the ghostway

they paraded their slivers of kiss before their lavish cinders

but he had a little nerve of anger & hope in his temple

he had ridden her stream out far enough to spot the closed pointed shrine of her desert bloodings

& he had been a king like a servant

but chopped himself free to drool down into a vanished body vanished thought & slack teeth of her brown sleep

& there would be no boats pulling in to these grainless islands

& there would be no havoc harbor no cruise of fingers on a breath-flat belly

for his hope was shreds the night tore

& the swept girl was somebody swept & lost away

& the ghosts lifted around him in the spit of their flower

with a grief of flesh with the closed shrine lifting off asphalt into the conscious stars & loss

& he was fallen in love forever with the sunlight nowhere & every moon of his sex gone dark