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95 pages, Hardcover
First published May 7, 2012
While we eat up all their salt pork,
Our Jim sings for them in his strange high voice
of an Injun killing ranger who hitches up
with his Comanche guide.
She bears him a strapping son and is ramped
with another, when the ranger hives off
with a fair-haired sheriff's daughter.
He then banishes his squaw and his sons
like they're prairie beeves.
But she won't go quietly:
she poisons his new wife with a malarial dress,
and that ain't the worst of her sins, that tar-eyed witch
strangles her own newborn,
and the other son flees --
The ladies cry: enough of this devil song,
Then it done occurs to us, looking at his dusky skin --
Our Jim's a two-bit half-breed.
Every highrise lacks something. Highrise 11 has no heat, Highrise 22 lacks floors, Highrise 33 has no spigots, Highrise 44 lacks windowpanes, Highrise 55 lacks stove ranges, while Highrise 66 is lopsided. Highrise 77 is right across from 88 and it is dark as a tomb. It temporarily has no electricity. Sometimes, I see a flicker of candles, roaming flashlights. 77 watches us in the sullen dark, we with our brazenly exposed units. They watch us eat, quarrel, make love, sleep. They watch us watching them. Lately there have been more residents leaping to their deaths out of 88 and spooked 88 residents have been moving to 77, preferring the dark. Some residents of 88 have wrapped a weave of laundry twine in a frail attempt to create a rail. Someone has chosen to wall herself in with stacked urns.
now we have snow sensors,
so you can go spelunking
in anyone's mind,
let me borrow your child
thoughts, it's benign surveillance,
I can burrow inside, find a cave
pool with rock-colored flounder,
and find you, half-transparent
In this town, we are impervious to discomfort
such as the cold that crackles our blanket
and beards the loudspeakers with ice, freezing
the monthly bloody rags women dry for the night.
We are strong, not afraid to betray.
For instance, we rush our old.
I wrap my mother in blankets:
It's time now Mother.
I'm not ready.
Oh but your mind is going, your tongue
is loosening you will start to talk we planned this.
I'm not ready to go.
My brother carries her up the mountain of junipers.
I make a nest for her.
I dread that we will see other kin abandoned there
I already see her tongue
dotted with frostbite yet we leave her
as she calls and calls.
As we trudge back down, our breaths wild
we chant songs of our king.