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1983-2015
tearing the rag off the bush again
from memory wing PDF E-mail
poet extracts lyric fat from a memory wing!


 

the creek that ran down the back yard ran

under that red oak widened there

to form a pool blackened by oak leaves

and one day i was playing alone

 

and fell down dead immobile

lay cheek to the dust of the ground

tasting and breathing the dust of the

ground and then after a suitable interval was

 

reborn opened my eyes looked out across the

gravel and stubble to see just a couple

of feet away a giant bullfrog squatting

in a tuft of grass half-hidden by

 

the grass the wide mouth shut into

its crease the eye-sphere rising out

of the skull and the wiggle of

the jugular under the neck skin

 

and how i wanted that frog

how could anything be more

desirable than to touch his cool

skin to feel the push of his jumping legs

 

and then was i as quiet and still

as the woods of a june afternoon

shifting position by miniscule

intervals bringing the down arm

 

quietly around drawing up my legs

then quickly over lift

back legs flex spring

my quadrapedal leap to prey

 

landing laying hands on bare

ground just as it splash and then

the quick kick under and i saw

some dark oak leaves rise to the surface

 

out in the middle where i couldn’t

reach and stood watching the soft

leaves sink back into the walnut

water and i thought about the frog later

 

when pop was raking the leaves out

of it dragging them up from the middle into

a soggy pile on the drive then sorting through

and picking out everything silver

 

and every time he found one

every time he found a shiny worm

he said god damn it and took the

switch to me he didn’t rake up the frog

 

but the leaf piles writhed with tadpoles

as if the old guy’d staked a claim and left his

brood behind to hold on to it for him

meanwhile he goes off to stake

 

some other pond bullfrogs are like

capitalists aren’t they? leaving their little

brown wiggly sperm incubating

in cess pools? only at the house when

 

it would rain pretty good the creek would

run a torrent and spread out into the yard below

the pond taking the tadpoles and

some of the gravel bed with it

 

at night i mulled its motion the slick

calm and ripples from the falling

leaf followed by the sudden roaring

current that emptied the pond and left

 

things flipping in the grass

my feet twisting in the tangle of

the sheets sweating out night

terrors i felt the water rising

 

black pond under black air

electric charge in the atmosphere

leaning forward slipping into it

it opened down like a well

 

like the well me and johnny looked

down at the right time of day

and saw our faces in the bottom

looking up out of a porthole

 

and something moving

rippling the water it was

a garter snake swimming around

the edge butting its nose

 

against the slick stone sides of the shaft

looking for a purchase

for a head-hold we dropped

sticks down at it saw our faces waver

 

like ghosts and then something

gripped us lifted us

off the ground kicking

by the nape it was the hermit

 

and we’d fouled his well he tossed us

down in the grass like trash

and walked off in his dirty overalls

long scrappy hair like a forest

 

yeti like a guardian

of the woods and we went down

and hid in the bobcat’s cave

crouched shivering holding onto

 

our knees until night fell and the mouth

of the cave was like moonlight

reflected in a pool and we

heard the bobcat coming over the leaves

 

saw the yellow eyes

looking back from the cave’s mouth

looking up from the pool

and there was nothing to do but

 

go on in deeper and we crawled

hands and knees it was

cold and the ground was wet

and never was there dark this dark

 

i felt the way along the stone

the path grew narrow the ceiling

fell and panic hit me the raw searing

terror that old claw from the deep

 

and i was struggling to turn around but

johnny said no we can do it just

relax and next i knew the ceiling opened up

and we were in a great room

 

standing up and raising our arms felt

around us and felt nothing

felt then a slight

shudder in my knees the floor

 

dematerializing by degrees

and then i floated free

because there was nothing

in space by which i might

 

check my motion

johnny’s call to me sounded

near then far then

aged pitch bent and i struggling

 

to relax to remain still but

panicked flailing in vacuo

and my movement was

of no consequence my terror

 

stirred not a ripple on the

chthonic waters 

in the great well of darkness

under the hermit’s shack

 

we could never crawl out of that cave

 

 
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