I bite my eyes shut between these songs.
They are the sounds of blackened insect husks
folded over elk teeth in a tin can,
they are gull wings fattening on cold air
flapping in a paper sack on the chlorine-stained floor.
They curl in corners, spiked and black-thatched,
stomp across the living room ceiling,
pull our hair one strand at a time from electric sockets
and paint our stems with sand in the kitchen sink.
They speak a double helix,
zigzag a tree trunk,
bark the tips of its leaves with cracked amber—
they plant whispers where shouts incinerate into hisses.
Stepping through the drum’s vibration,
I hear gasoline
trickle alongside the fenced-in panorama
of the reed we climb in from
and slide my hands into shoes of ocean water.
I step onto the gravel path of swans paved across lake scent,
wrap this blank page around the exclamation point slammed between us.
The storm lying outside its fetal shell
folds back its antelope ears
and hears its heart pounding through powdery earth
underneath dancers flecking dust from their ankles to thunder into rain.
I am unable to pry my fingers from the axe
unable to utter a word
without grandfather’s accent rippling
around the stone flung into his thinning mattress.
Years before, he would have named this season
by flattening a field where grasshoppers jumped into black smoke.
A crow snaps beak over and over again:
the past is a blurry splotch of red crosshatched with neon light;
on the drive south,
windows pushed down,
you scoop pellets of canned air
and ocean across sand dunes,
across the waning lick of moonlight on the dashboard
to crease the horizon
between petals of carved snow.
Blue birds chirp icy rocks from their stomachs
with wings caked heavy
with the dark mud of a gunmetal sky,
to the earth’s bandages
shivering with cold spells and convulsions
in the market
underneath an avalanche of apples.
A red-tail hawk scrapes the sandstone wall with its beak.
A shower of sparks skate across the morning sky.
You think this bottle will open a canyon wall
and light a trail
trampled by gloved hands
as you inhale earth, wind, water,
through the gasoline nozzle
at trail’s end,
a flint spear driven into the key switch.
You think you can return to that place
where your mother held her sleeves above the rising tides
saying “We are here again
on the road covered with television snow;
we are here again
the song has thudded.”