"Once, if I remember well, my life was a feast where all hearts opened and all wines flowed."
Arthur Rimbaud, A Season In Hell (Une Saison en Enfer)
IThe same sun's shining yesterday That rose so slow, and stood so long And stretched my time like clay Years can't turn 'round As the whirl of the windmill's vanes Or the foot-pumped potter's wheel Yet still the scintillant dust blows Through the chasm between That place, once called home And the Chinese boxes of dream after dream Where desert light refracts Rebounds off phantom forms And aches To reach that ground again Where bronze-backed workers sweated in the sun Piling mud cake blocks to make an adobe home Day in, day out Hardscrabble immigrants with blistered feet They'd crossed a hundred miles or more From Sabinas Hidalgo To work a day or two or three Then be on their way to Winkleman There our home was a school bus Shaded by trees of mesquite While down the dirt road woven mysteries loomed In the redolent realm of communal house and pottery works And our backyard: a yawning canyon The gnarled ribs of the San Pedro River To touch that ground again Would it be again to taste The juice that only once Produced amazement in every sense? Would I merge with my old self's shadow And swim again in flowing wine? Oh, but only a child can really see The blueness of the blue IINow broken strands will fall together: Memories embedded like a graffitto in cement Nameless as a scent of wind Fleeting as a feather Are brought toward ambience again To form this song's single heather Tucson's somewhere back there in the dust As my father wheels the '47 Studebaker bus And drives further, further across the arid land Peppered with cacti, sky so tender, endless blue While our yellow caravan bounces and careens Suffused with hazel sunlight Warm with strangers bearded, beaded, embroidered That was the incandescent time When things seem received rather than found And as the sun went down, past the loopy road from Pomerene My family was all aboard, with Dixie cups of Rainbow Water Circulating, flowing from the giant blue see-through jug And we wondered as the bus rattled on: Where, where are we going? Where blows the wind? Nearby dusty Benson town (With its stagecoach robber ghosts And the brown tabled Horseshoe Cafe Where once we had dined On ham smothered in sauce of glistening orange) Was a 30 mile bumpy ride away From where Cascabel lay, and it lies still Cascabel, may the wind, when it comes Ripple hushed among your mesquite leaves Embrace you, its dreaming, sleeping child In her lush maternal shawl Protect you from the rain of castigating stars That bides with the wolf and rattlesnake Cascabel's namesake Formidable serpent that comes to pay a visit To my father, who's shrouded with another Across the river, under the trees Where they dare not move Deathly still, silent Until snake's wrath has been meditated away First night's sleep in red parachute tepee 'Til the school bus, parked, became our home Around us the shadowland enwrapped And as the sun arose, master of ceremonies Segue into paradise I lifted my five year old eyes, lamb-like And learned to see and taste IIIEternity in the bosom of a year, papaya on its bough Tablature of clay, garden, canyon Vivified by eyes, sensorium, soul School bus furnished with life's imperatives: Stove, beds (Where one morning I awoke in horror Cut with a razor My pajamas soaked red with blood) A family all together Lulled into peace After the rough and rattly journey'd road So dormant were we, sleeping with our seeds Wired for fury, to erupt years hence Buried now and lost in forgetful clouds of long ago Our daily trip was down that dusty road To the "Big House," axis of our stay: Infrangibe kingdom of stone, wood, and glass Forever resting just an amble down the road Deep as its garden's soil Where I watched a headless snake circuit And weave its own wake, zapping out Its cord of life High as its lofts, where when I'd climb Patchouli women, widening subdued brown light Burned yesteryear's incense, the integer of delight A whiff of tomatoes and mint And I'm wandering the backyard gardens again Where goats scrape sawed-off horns Against dirty grey metal sheets While the ire of meanest, bucking momma goat Promenades beyond that fenced yard And whistles through my spindrift years Of afterglow turned indigo - Those were the days of seeming kindness Desert highway utility poles, ink-black wires Disappearing, like my brother in a billow of dust Bound for Benson on the morning school bus A real bus! Toward a real school While I was stuck to dabble and dance Within the arena of my broadening sight Planes are dropping fly eggs from the sky Black larvae pools that splay and squirm And wiggle across the split-opened box And glint silvery with specks of the sun Night seeps in, sets, envelopes And meal time commences at the House Hands together held 'round the circle Form one commune, unbroken chain Surrounding the mighty brown wooden dining table While our eyes were closed, in repose and prayer Though at times I'd peek At that mandala of auming adult faces Aaahhhooommm....... Sound around the table humming Prerequisite to feast All just memories now, a falling leaf away From the sound much later to emerge: Signals from the vale, such discordant music That leaves this rush of phantasmagoria, at last... Mute Then draws back, to fifings from distant mountains Rain within the cloud Blight within the seed Alone once on that wending path A black bull blisters! Snorts! Chases me down! Flit of paranoia jiggling through my brain In dread of trampled-under death From the rancher Gillespie's runaway cow! But I'm just shuffling again through dust Writing in my college apartment Boston night As doubts slither in with the steampipe's winter hiss: Does this altar, language-lifted Reach, grope, through memory's helix To feel mere shades of forgotten cliffs, meals, moments In the hearth of my flesh and blood Stand revealed as moments sloughed through, like any other? Or transmuted in the scheme of time To yield a time of myth, child of bliss Image of Cascabel picaresque, a paradise So that I will not forsake Touching something, just once - in life - Transfiguring? Light of day casts over the cakes of clay Spanning the San Pedro Like memories crying to be excavated To be felt again in full measure To return and arc my life Oh life of sin, spun away from the light of life Bright from what was once One fine flash that everything else Gladly, gushingly reverberates from Rush of spring, and I was the one who felt The tinge of nectar! The suspicion that the sunflower Grows by God's grace IVAnd so the morning came Harbinger of entropy Yet still leaving time, an immutable moment For signs of the sublime: A roar from afar crashes, cascades Through the canyon's clay walls The portals of sound are loos'd No leashing can there be, for this colossal Immanence! I dash from the House, tumult pulls me forth To behold: Flashflood wonderment! Thundering, eruptive Brown and muddy rolls of rushing water! Sundered trees caught in the thrashing race While a child's seized by direct touch Of what silvers the stars And molds all else in its wake And walks in the light of dusk With the sun's slanting red glimmers Over the curled mud crusts of the river's bed Through the stained glass specks of lighting shiver To deliver a message from the hawk who encircles And brings the night of Gethsemane unto a man who quivers And suffers in the hall, wrapped in his woolen shawl Wracked with a toothache's riveting agony He was eclipsed by the night's strange arc And the unknown patterns of the circuitous hawk While the windows glowed from beer bottle's ends All in colored rows, pulsating with the mystery The coming of seasons of pain As indomitable rain keeps on coming Living room light blooms when daylight comes As loungers in lofts reside with memories of cocoa beans And a song from the speakers drifts on through: "Jesus Christ, Superstar Who in the world do you think you are?" Light that cast that shadow: A stranger then, by name Seahorse on a glide through time Peers at the pantomime of forms Elongated around the glass bowl In waves of undulating fantasy Wooden kitchen bowls brim, shelves teem The freshly mopped floor sparkles and gleams My father sits there, bandana around his hair And no one else may come in Until his self-admiring meditation is done The eyes of the lotus legged yogis are closed Their breaths silent and serene Lords of the zone between dining room and lofts The earnest meditators who drift off To somewhere, somewhere lift And do they float, milky and unfettered When they arrive on that silky astral plane? All the while, a child watcher sees, stares Spectating ecstasy But I'm bashful, naked Standing in the blue-tiled shower room With a little girl, another little boy And hairy grown-ups accompanying As we wash ourselves clean After a stroll through the wet San Pedro And I wonder, steam pipes still hissing: Who was it, in this desert arcadia That I romped and rumbled with Soaking up the delicious term of the sun? Now way down in my cavernous depths Hidden in a dug up hole of earth We watch the pick-up truck come barreling in With a cactus on the flatbed, tossing up a cloud of dust It's so cool down here, so moist, and dark With my older brother, in the shadows VMesh of bodies weave the trees The whole commune's naked Dancing for Life and the Knowledge That I'll catch you when you fall "Come on along, come play Trust! And let's fall back into each other's arms..." While a child watches, transfixed, from the sides School bus mesquite shade Sitting on summer's doorstep And Alphonso saunters my way, bearing a gift My mother's favorite turquoise plated spoon Twisted into a wristband, made just for me: "Theese is for Thody!" Dear soul, how could she be angry? Alphonso, you who slipped down the well I tumble back the years to reach you Melee of frantic faces gathered 'round As rescuers plunged down to save you I could've ridden the rope down, down (Was tiny enough to fit inside that tin pail) Though terrified I'd never come back up I passed it by Alive, in the bleeding dusk, they pulled him up, up Carried and laid him in the Pinto's backseat Then the last minute hassle: The mustach'd, red-haired driver, knife at his hip Who refused to take the wounded man - How could he be so cruel? They shifted Alphonso to the pickup truck Fed him a hearty chunk of anesthesia hash Then roared away toward Benson Sky overcast, a day for dreaming A ride to Benson, windows down with whipping wind From a stitch unraveled in the clouds A perfect beam, one rectangle of golden light Blesses the field, privileges our eyes Benson high school gym, bell-bottom rock and rollers Booming Chuck Berry neon orange music Never dreaming my own yet unstepped trips Through other hallways, other days A freefall through time Resplendent colors of the town parade pass my eyes Shriners in tall funny hats ride, turn, and wave From the perch of the glimmering red fire truck And pieces of candy tossed by their endless hands Fall into the tarred street Where little kids scamper, and scramble for more, more More from the engine of spinning time VITucson came back again, I can't recall or trace exactly when We left the settlement, dust blown again to the wind Never knew I'd return in dreams, again and again And each time to seem so real, closer, realer than before... Until I'm finally spun back, and there at last - Upon waking, morning slays the traveler's bliss And washes clean imagination's wish