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A confession in the desert by Chris Wayan, 1990/5/(15?)

"What's this LONG poem about?" you think warily.
You're right to beware; poetry's gone so pure
Most of it has no about at all--
Distilled water, guaranteed sterile,
No ionic pentameter contaminants!
But don't worry. My doggerel
Is meaningful--full as mud.
Slurp my story-stew; you'll note
Four sharp flavors of about:
About hunger's tunnel vision.
About figure versus field--that sharp Wasp attention!
About those lands that we call waste.
About our toys, and untoys--also called waste.
Hey! You yawning?
Look, you're in danger--
My case is extreme, but a warning.

Here, I'll set you the scene.

Silhouette of poet reciting.
From the green Sandias, a spider-fine road
Leads far to Santa Fe.
The lone thread zigzags range to range,
Skirting the terror of the open high
Desert like a mouse:
Dreads eagles in the clear.
What Rocs did the roadmen fear?
What claws around their cars?
A roc feeds a man to its chicks.
The desert thinly spangled:
Poplars shouting green
On a subtle sage field,
Advertise water to passing eyes
In exchange for our attention--
Like loud heads on television.
Dead mineshacks scuttle down the draws
Like beercan scorpions.
We slow for tourists in Madrid
Buying from the Hippie Tribe.

Linda's black car roars on,
Windows down, inhaling spring.
Our car-farts plume east,
Gull-soaring into immensity.
Eyes full of size,
I forgive Americans their faith
Any filth they shit
Plops in God's so-sanitary hands.
In these immense lands
We're so immensely small.
No burning bush,
no melting ranch (walls melt here),
no jagged bleeding car
Can hope to mar
These continental shanks!
The gun nut, full-mad at last,
Has only a bony steer
To kill, and himself.
Infinity's hard to scar.

Enough scenery. That's the field.
The figure's in the car: healing, but unhealed.

Cumulus clouds over southwestern mesas.
Linda, married, asks me why
Half her friends can't fall in love.
"I have to untwist first,"
said Cecy's letter, "I can't see clear."
"She's intelligent, so are you."
Linda grumbles, flooring it.
"Your eyes are open, more than most.
Why whine? Go jump on somebody.
If you can't find anyone you like,
Take a hike." I blink.
"Stupid, a Sierra Singles hike!"

I try to explain how
The hearts I know go dry.
How even in city crowds my stare
Spears every passer-by:
Past the stunted faces'
Cartoonish deformities...

Cowgirl, a redhead in green shirt, blue jeans, leather boots, sitting on a sandy ledge.
I stab into souls,
Flung by my hunger
for a girl not shrunk like a trophy head.
And guilt for that hunger:
I just wanna grab
A mate who's more or less not dead.

"You want to devour us! Are we prey?"
A feminist batterer snarls in my past.
Over the rubble of her bouldered rants
I clop, a bruised Jane Austen mare
Who scents bad water, bad love, bad paths,
but still can't find the way out of... waste.

O what a waste! I absentmindedly
Miss the scenery (pastel infinity),
For my radar ears only prick
To echoes of my own mate-hunt.
That sandstone's all thighs. That canyon cunt.

Is this waitress her? O what a waist!
This tourist-kitsch has a little style:
Carved by my twin, Mad Genius Girl?
Rocks croak thoughts:
"O'Keeffe, O'Keeffe!"
But emotional thirst... comes first.

Shy mare peers around a tree.
A flare of hair
In that arroyo, boyo!
Was that blur Her?
Linda snorts and guns the car.

As Coyote ignores blue heaven,
to sniff the chicken guts--poison or no?
As nukers stalk, eyes down for yellow ore,
Deaf to all but the crucial click and roar;
As Nevada truckers blindly crush
tortoises in their tired rush
toward a horizon whore;
As pines shine green as dollars
to a four-child Mormon logger...

So the bold stripe on the frog
Makes you miss the beast.
So the black-velvet universe hides
behind its Vegas stars.
So you only see what shrieks
And what your hunger seeks.

Winged coyote on a red mesa.
All the rest blurs, pales, fars.
Figure and field, figure and field.
To save the world we have to see it,
and to see it hunger has to yield.
And it won't: our hunger's real.

So, near-blind to the hoodoos
Slow-dancing into rubble,
I struggle in my lungs,
Wrestle with the strangle.
Words smash up through my throat,
that flashing cop roadblock--
I babble staccato, then throttle and lock.
(Linda steers on, past the State Pen,
Incredulous at my censor again.)

Puma silhouetted on starry sky.
Along a luminous arc of mesas
Each sculpted, striking, unique,
But implying a stratum, a pattern, I speak
Of a similar chain of female faces
Stunning, bright, and always just friends.
At least we talk like friends--
But never touch. Till I move on--
Unlove hurts too much.
They only want my brain!
They throw my rest away--
A mirror-image of that trucker's
roadside T and A.
And then they call me cold if I
Reject rejection's pain.
Giant heads loom out of the New Mexico desert.
Or is this my
comforting lie?
When a girl doth want me all,
Am I happy as a desert pool?
What do I do? (And this confusion
Isn't no artistic pose.
Boxing with blindfolds gags and all
I gain sore green multiple contusions,
Not conclusions.)

A few do want me, despite my care--
Random rags and straggling hair,

Sketch of a redrock hoodoo in New Mexico.
The skeleton achieved by starve,
The cringe of fossil shame...

You still want ME? I run!
For across the field of
Hollywood slow-mo fantasy--
Loving lovers meeting--
Lopes an old mad Thing.
Between yellow teeth
it froth and sing:
"Give 'em what they want!"
Slobber dissolves my dignity:
Just pet me and I'll be your slave.
Into the waste, Coyote--flee!

Me as a feral boy, shaggy, ragged, glaring yellow-eyed.
A bluesinger walks the skyline
Provided I don't stare
Straight at him or her,
Tossing attention's spear.

This field-figure sings, though only I hear:

"Be what they want!
Your body's just an empty
House you haunt.
Be what they want..."
Was that blur... her?
Coyote sniffs the guts.
A mate who's more or less not dead.
Throw the rest away.
Eyes full of size,
I forgive Americans their faith:
Be what they want.
Cumulus clouds over a red canyon.

LISTS AND LINKS: rants - poems - quests - deserts - horny boys - Coyote - celibacy - healing from abuse - inheritances - leftist guilt - figure, field, focus - tales of the waking world - lifepaths - a truly perverse dream of Cecy the writer

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