The elder wakes me, gray moss in his ears,
his hand with four fingers, the life leaks out
of his eyes. The tomboy daughters, now, swarm
around me like doubtful antecedents.
I slip from my bedroll and move toward
our clapboard coffin where the whitetail hangs.
Coffee brewing, the wife with tooth knocked loose.
Last night, the whiskey clawing at my gut,
I lurched out under the hunter’s moon
to puke in an acre of aluminum;
the largest pile of beercans in the world.
The butcher’s voice followed me, telling the
same joke for the third time. His face, his breath
stunk like government surplus beef.
Her purpled braids toward me, I enter
the globe of sadness around her body.
She lives almost suddenly: small gold spoon
falling into a well. Velocity
stains her face; she loves me without mercy.
Every night of this day, those hands like birds
arrive at the tracks of a single horse.
Submerged in autumn, an uncle raises
the poles into place, he smooths the altar.
Three eagles slice the mist above the creek.
I give him some wine and start his pickup.
Three drunks have dumped a trailer in the ditch—
A pair of colts flounder on splintered shanks;
They’ll bloat there in the dusty sage tonight.
In the field a convoy of clunkers circle—
a sea of something rolls into my ears.
As my sons chop cottonwood for the fire,
I can taste the sun as thick as honey.
Sage of our palms we strip and enter the
guest room of this dim museum, sweating
the taut perfume of an unborn nation.
Later, we make the smoke as rain hides down
in Crazy Head. My children cry like gulls
in the detours of the evening. The palm
of powder stabs at the roof of my mouth,
It sings me down this river without oars,
A boat with no one in it. I drink this
distillation of all my body’s poisons.
Eyes, black kidneys in a pot, Badger be
my drummer as I fertilize the moon,
Bald eagle dive into a tree of blood,
Coyote, sing your words into my mouth, for
a shaky door is banging in the wind.
Help me now, in this garden ripe with air,
Lift this shadow from the one beneath it.
Shawl of blood and winter sky, the old man
brays the red smoke of his heart into mine;
We fade and become the wind together.
Bleached skull on snake rocks, you lift up your dress
and I look: simple mirrors of your breasts.
A she-wolf losing her teeth beats at the
teepee walls and cannot find the door flap.
Nights I spend more and more time in the air,
circling, inhaling the geography—
a flying snake with the eyes of an owl:
An elk kicks up dust on the trail below,
A goat-bearded man beats his sockets black,
The grandmother’s vapors, burial mound.
Over my shoulder, time, and I go on.
I press my ear to this lone juniper,
shipwrecked in the mist. A cold light seeps in
to the murky district of my colon.
We plunge and plunge in each other, locked in
the lips of black flowers, drink the black liquor
of hooves, of hooves, the nipple on my shield:
This serpent has its own tail in its mouth.
Grandfathers rise, their bones bathed in violets,
A sea of horsemen rides across the plains,
The mother turns, and eats her own spawn, we
are making love under the morning star.
Peabody puts the gun in its own mouth.
By the blue glow from the smokehole, we know
we finish last: we are the ones to win.