When Roads Become Clouds

The following is a series of poems that I wrote in August 2003, while on a solo road trip from California to Kansas and back. I was recently inspired to unearth them from their hiding place and let them see the light of day.

 


∴ ◊ ∴ 

 

 

-nevada- 

 

Bleeding streets
burnt red,
their cracked and scaly skin
shed the heat of the sun.

Black tar
keeps me stuck here,
as a firmament of
dying stars

press down.

Smoke rises
as the clouds shoot
up

Mojave
mesquite
mescaline.
I am

lost

in Vegas,
mourning.
When the serpent breaks ~
the diamond rattler
strikes

then recoils
into desert sand.

I see
your body in flames,

Punctured,
pulsating
where the poison entered your veins.

 

 

____________________________________________________________________________________________

 

-utah-

 

Living
rainbows
cross land and sky,
there are

Charcoal gray
archways,
there are

Pink
flesh cliffs,
there are

Canyon shadows
cutting deep,
there are

Gorges
forged from earth
fire.

Moab,
ancient kingdom, your
iron umber
monuments, your
cosmic bones

I imagine
but do not see.

 

 

____________________________________________________________________________________________

 

-colorado-

 

Arapaho
sky forest

Passing over,
I ascend to
fall again.

There are
ghosts in my car.

I talk to them, they
shift, like
static against my skin,

Cold and electric.

Visitors from the trees,
I am alone and listening.

Kiowa,
old wood,
I hear you creaking.

 

 

____________________________________________________________________________________________

 

-kansas-

 

Summer rain
wet and warm,

Cicada prairies,
rolling

Seas of gold.

I travel
through the heart of America
unadorned,
past

Rattlesnake jewelry,
past

Sleepy towns
where time moves slow.

 

 

____________________________________________________________________________________________

 

-oklahoma-

 

Sweet grass and citrus groves,

In the darkness
I see the tops of trees.

I am afraid of what I do not see.

Cherokee,
the taste of tears,
the smell of home.

Displaced,
forsaken

Mother,
this land
it cries with me.

 

 

____________________________________________________________________________________________

 

-texas-

 

Songs of Jesus
dying in the hearts of man.

Open the eyes of my heart,
Lord.

The flood is coming..

in Amarillo
I hear its thunder.

 

 

____________________________________________________________________________________________

 

-new mexico-

 

Black Hills
cast their spell
across the border.

Time disappears.

I see you,
Mary Ellen,
at a trading post.
An old woman
wears your ghost:

Leathered skin
silver hair
turquoise eyes

catching dreams.

You ask me for direction.

I am no longer your daughter.

You do not remember me.

Now
we are both lost,
searching for a way out of this world,

Adrift upon Navajo streams.

 

 

____________________________________________________________________________________________

 

-arizona-

 

Black Elk canyon,

earthen chamber
where ancestors dream.

Smoke rises.
I pass through
flesh
cleansing fire,
desert belly
screams.

All around the night sky looms
lightning blankets,
covering the land.
You will never leave

 

Phoenix star souls
and rivers flowing

into Eternity.

 

 

____________________________________________________________________________________________

 

-california-

 

Full circle
from the East,

A storm illuminates the desert.

I am no longer scared
of the sacred
old feeling

when roads become clouds.

San Diego,
your haunted mission,
your forgotten river

sleeping.

Countless pathways
intertwine ~
branches, roots twisting
future with past.

Is this where it ends?

Breathless ocean
Burial ground

Home.

 

 

∴ ◊ ∴

 

 

The Open Road

 

 

 

Betrothal

 

“He loved, beneath all this summer transiency, to feel the earth’s spine beneath him; for such he took the hard root of the oak tree to be; or, for image followed image, it was the back of a great horse that he was riding; or the deck of a tumbling ship – it was anything indeed, so long as it was hard, for he felt the need of something which he could attach his floating heart to; the heart that tugged at his side; the heart that seemed filled with spiced and amorous gales every evening about this time when he walked out. To the oak tree he tied it and as he lay there, gradually the flutter in and about him stilled itself; the little leaves hung, the deer stopped; the pale summer clouds stayed; his limbs grew heavy on the ground; and he lay so still that by degrees the deer stopped nearer and the rooks wheeled round him and the swallows dipped and circled and the dragonflies shot past, as if all the fertility and amorous activity of a summer’s evening were woven web-like about his body.”

– Virginia Woolf, Orlando

No Conviction

We watch as a man is
gunned down
in cold blood,
plain as day;

We watch that man’s blood
spill from his heart
and spread,
soaking the fabric of his cotton shirt
red
as a daughter cries
and his soul leaves
his body, still buckled in.

He wasn’t reaching

With his dying breath
still trying to explain
to his killer,
a henchman for the city he loves.

We can hear.
We can see
in a rush of blood,
through the screams
as an innocent man is
torn from this life.

The truth is clear.

Justice is not blind
when a man’s skin color is the trigger
and a gold badge
sets his murderer free.

***

for Philando Castile

“There is no greater tyranny than that which is perpetrated under the shield of the law and in the name of justice.”
– Montesquieu (The Spirit of Laws)