Prose Poems

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Fat Tuesday

Yesterday Fat Tuesday today the weather Hot like a cat’s back too early this season words like sputum old men fried chicken and taters gobs of spit those remembrances of ‘83 bust them little critters’ asses they’ll perform afore we get through ain’t no stopping time infests your drawers and pulls nobody knows where mars is red everywhere I clutched a little old son by the skin of his ten year ribs mucho misbehaving hand print signature tattooed there loud remnant afore we knew so much

Bronze Scimitar

The bronze scimitar my daddy toted home from Agra in 1945—victorious rah rahs and sailors kissing the swollen lips of girls from Rillito Road—looks like a toy, opens letters, spears olives . . . the green ones with the pimento guts. I like their flavor, something you have to learn to love. Beneath the cottonwood tree where the yellow leaves were thick as the dust on the road by the big canal, he whipped his children…..one, two, three. It looks like a toy, but it’s a weapon. The bronze is tarnished the color of dead men on the trails between Burma and Japan. The green cottonwood trees lean in the hard gales that race north out of Tucson and scatter dirt from here to the halls of hell. It’s something you have to learn to love. It looks like a toy.

Our Home Town

We run to trouble…we don’t run from it. We run on sticky ocotillo horses. Our cap guns loaded for bear…and commies who hide in the bathrooms at the junior high…they come from Quebec and wear curly black hair…we can kill all the red ants in Kingdom Come with Grandma’s magnifying glass. She gave up eyesight so she could whine…about Melba toast and my second cousin Melba who farms cotton and punches cows. She used to punch me around…she liked Republicans and hated the war that floated her brother off on the stringy feet of parachutes caught in the breeze over St. Mere Eglise. Melba toasts stained glass windows that read like comic books of G I Joe. In the cathedral she prays. In the cathedral hearts are severed from heads and pumped like tires on a green Army six-by.
Run to trouble… come commie…
come red ants…
come Quebecois.

Praise the Lord, she said. Praise Him.

The Blood Tribe

“The wolves also told them that animals with hoofs and horns were alright to eat, but those with paws and claws should be left alone. Horses were never keen on this…” J. Edward Chamberlin, Horse.

The ponies’ unshod hooves clatter on Reservation Road. They sidle. No saddles. They prance. No wolf packs harass them. In a culvert crammed with many seasons’ cattails, the coyote pups lift their snouts. The memory scents cleave strong. Ten thousand throng the olfactory lobes and weigh them down. Sadness saddles the town’s memory. The golden eagle kills the fresh pronghorn. Steals it away from its mother. The scent of the tanning factory weighs us down. The ponds bloat with runoff of blood; sodium hydroxide, arsenic sulfide, dimethyl amine. The wind blows the sand over the coulees, choking the tracks ten thousand years strong. The horse herds penned inside the long hard reservation fence. Where is the song of the wolf pack…in the memories of IPads? Unsaddled songs of rap prance in cyber lines that surround the reservation. Rusty fenders of ’72 Chevys. Gelatin, gelatin, the hooves of the horses.

At the Silver Legacy

Stone age ocher mineral rich etchings leaner than Mickey Mouse movies. Yesterday the wet leaves smelled of death. We laughed all the way from the bank. I cannot love my children any worse. Karl von Clausewitz said “Everything in war is very simple. But the simplest thing is difficult.” Among the wet leaves, construction paper penciled in with red and blue and green stick men. Extra-planetary thin legged rodents. Laughing, that’s what they said, laughing. It’s pretty damned simple: money, gold and mammon are what we leave our children after we kick the bucket. Legacies. Stone ochres.

Jesus Multiplies the Fish and the Loaves

The water roars over the sick dam into every thirsty reservoir in the south counties. We load fishing gear into the truck and away we hurry in search of perch, bass and catfish. Mosquitoes squall over the water. Bass leap at sullen insects. Mesquite trees sag knee-deep in the muck. As we don cut-off Levis and old Adidas, we talk about eating fish, about bait and lures and the rattlesnakes that can swim across the lakes.

In the water up to my chest, casting about for sustenance. Thoughts of Jesus multiplying the fish and the loaves. The seething stings of tiny things. The swish and rustle of water and plant. Mesquite beans curing in the murky heat. Sound behind me. Sounds to my side. Splashes beneath the tree trunks. Images submerged beneath the surface, blue and green, the glint of June sunset….red and pink. A quiet breeze rattles leaves. A hiss. Keep my mind on something else besides what lurks beneath the water. I think of Jesus multiplying the fish and the loaves. Something brushes my leg. I jump. Something snaps on the lure I have cast. My rod bends and the line runs with a long sweet whine. I fight for the fish. My line breaks. Something plops from a mesquite into the water. I try to think of multiplying fish and come to the conclusion it is only a metaphor. Something brushes the back of my calves. I imagine rattlesnakes assessing me, am I fodder or something more…dangerous? Multiplying…multiplying, they spread in my mind, gang up, fangs and scales and fancy diamonds on their backs. I begin to leave the fish to themselves and move to the dike. I lose an Adidas but keep on fleeing. Faster…faster. Every step, the images multiply…multiply.

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