Hour 24, view outside my window

Awakenings

The rising sun in El Paso
cannot be seen because
of the mountains, an
exercise in anticipation,
the morning light blocked
from view except as a
lightening border along
the peaks’ edges, a blue
streak that pales further
with each passing minute.

At last the sun bursts
over their angles and edges,
illuminating in vibrant streaks
of gold, rose, and purple.

I begin to see clearer details
in the toys abandoned the
previous night, lawn furniture,
and delineating rock walls,
as my small world awakens
once again.

Hour Twenty-Three, someone or something missed

Divided

I never knew you personally,
just as a small, quiet echo
that had briefly moved within me
and just as quickly was gone,
here just long enough
for a recorded heartbeat,
a video in tandem with your sister,
squirms, wriggles, and gentle thumps,
a prayer, a wish, and a hope.

I knew you as a reflection of her,
never as the unit you were meant to be,
never to hear “ohh, they’re so beautiful,”
they, the duality, mirrored and identical.
Here so briefly, and gone.

Hour Twenty-One, Exaggeration

Tall True Tale

My Creek Native American ancestor
was seven feet tall
and a blacksmith
that married a white woman
and drove his cattle and sheep
eight hundred miles to market
one way
on foot
and returned home empty-handed
eight hundred miles again.
He died from pneumonia
at age twenty-one
and thus escaped the Trail of Tears,
his baby girl just one year old,
and his wife remarried
and birthed seven sons.
All true.
I swear.

Hour Twenty, nature and the unnatural

Misplaced

African gazelles live and thrive in the desert
scrub surrounding El Paso, and New Mexico’s
White Sands Missile Range.

A graceful and gorgeous animal, the oryx
was endangered in its ancestral homeland,
but is now a pest here in its new desert home
a softer place with no natural predators than
its native Kalahari, breeding far beyond
their boundaries within lands that regularly
test military missiles.

They must be hunted, the five thousand or more
that live out there, to reduce them to the acceptable
five hundred they were expected to be when released.
A well meaning program by uninformed people
to boost their numbers creates chaos in a land
not naturally their home.

Hour Nineteen, a poem in space

Man in the Moon

He:

They left me behind,
the mining and exploration crew,
assuming my death in a cave-in
and taking their projected
window of opportunity
to get home again.
I found my way through
tunnels to the site of another
group, and another lost soul.

She:

I, too, was left behind
my mission of scientific exploration
cut short in choking black dust.
I groped my way through
the deepest dark I’ve ever known
until I saw a light, and a face
a man, alive like me.

They:

The two missions combined
in the face of their deaths
to return and collect their bodies,
finding two that had somehow
found one another, hand in hand
beneath the surface, bound
for eternity within the moon.

Hour Eighteen, Titles

Cloud Mountain

El Paso, my surprising home, is bisected
into east and west sides by the Franklin Mountains,
and bound on the south by the Rio Grande,
nestled in the pocket created by Texas,
Mexico, and New Mexico’s intersecting borders.

Spring’s relentless winds create walls of brown
clouds that spill over the peaks of the mountains
in waves of oncoming ocher dust that infiltrate
each crack and crevice of our home, lining
windowsills in brown, clinging lines reminiscent
in miniature of depression times, grit that was
pervasive and choking, people never fully feeling clean.

Summer’s rainy season tamps down the dust,
white rain clouds approaching the east side
of the mountains and coalescing in wet mounds
that mimic the spines of cacti-covered peaks, at last
spilling in abandon over the mountain’s west side.
Gray rains pound the impacted desert soil in a visibly
creeping wall, our coming year’s welfare dictated
by impassive, breaking, mountains of clouds.

Hour Seventeen, Loss that is not cliche

Concrete Blonde

My physical virginity had long been lost
to a molester’s cruel hands when I,
fed up with being afraid, lost my spiritual
virginity to one who was unworthy,
and unaware of the sacrificial altar that his
living room floor then became.

The alternative group Concrete Blonde
wailed their ethereal grunge in the background
of an act that took less than the time
of the B side of their album.

We fumbled with clothes, I pretended to love,
finally betrayed at summer’s end. For a time
I became the concrete blonde myself, hardened
and hollowed out, ghosting along the sidelines
and hurting for someone who didn’t deserve my pain.

Hour Sixteen, Persona poem

Halfling

In wordy deceit my prize was won,
a cunning power came to me, precious
and rare. I engaged in word play with
a poor twisted thing, alone and insane
for so very long. We traded our best riddles,
my life for a ring of gold.

Back and forth we bantered,
of eggs, teeth, and time,
until inspiration no longer came.
He could not guess what lay within
the pocket of my waistcoat, and so
rather than be eaten, with my new
found power, I disappeared, into what

” . . . cannot be seen, cannot be felt,
cannot be heard, cannot be smelt,”
what ” . . . lies behind stars, and under hills,
and empty holes, fills. It comes first,
and follows after, ends life, kills laughter.”

Back to the light of the surface I stole,
never suspecting the havoc and hate
I gleefully left behind.

 

Hour Fifteen, Myth

Metamorphosis

I drove out to the desert
one cold and moonlit night
in December, testing the theory
of animals speaking human
tongues at midnight Christmas Eve.
My whimsy taught me far older
wisdom, plunged into a deeper
past than my Christian forebears
could ever willingly admit.

The flickering flames that warmed
my body freed my mind to wander,
mysterious sounds layering the night:
crackling and popping mesquite,
screeing crickets, and the shivering
ululation of a single coyote’s cry
to the waxing moon. The night
deepened, approached its zenith,
and as the moon and wood smoke
vied for supremacy, they coalesced
in front of my eyes to a long snout,
gleaming teeth, golden eyes,
and a throaty voice that emerged
as if from the night itself.

“Welcome,” Loki grunted,
“You’ve taken too long to return, sister,”
and with that a long pink tongue
swiped my cheek, and I howled
an irresistible duet with my brother,
in furred glory to the engorged,
engaging, brilliant moon.

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