across the line

what is it to be
living in america’s attic
a bright cloud of snow
a windy blindness
stray dogs sniffing
,,these are the particulars of north

small creatures who at night scratch
initials & scribble graffiti
on the inside of your skull
a tick stuck in the brain

what it is to live where cold clicks
at the pane and sticks
in your eye like an ice pick

also trips across the line
the 49th we once called “a 48”
“The Medicine Line” that once
protected the Dakota Sioux
where in the summer solstice
the light never quite disappears

unread by those on the ground floor
who do not notice the ceiling on their days
or the faint scuttling on top of their dreams
who do not feel a shiver from the draft

when talking to ourselves
we come down the stairs
we are watching our steps
knowing you will not know
who we are but you will know
that we have crossed the line this time

that we were there
we are here
that’s us

pissing yellow
letters in the snow

 

theyve all gone

civil hopes squashed
flat as a porcupine
on the road speaking disaster

it is always

somebody else
when they go
to look for america

does no one say

maybe it’s us

the people who may not notice
the world or much care for it

for in america

we are calling the shots
made in america
that are heard
around the world

 

Mont Golfier on the winds of poesy

and yes though you think him goofy Montgolfier saw the air shake and
tremble heard the salamander in the fire quiet as felt move its moist tail
felt the chemise where they lingered near the fire flutter the lingerie as if it
were a windsock filling with swallows flitted up and down the scuffle of
air a lifelong dream full and slowly pulsing whuff whuff all the people in a
flap sigh & point look at that they shuffle and wave over there you can
hear him he’s right there the ladies sniffle and wave their silk kerchiefs
touch them to their eyes and he gives a snuff to the balloon, a trembling
creature that wears its skin easily, schumpp schlummp, a cat with a
stomach that falls a little flat. I didn’t inhale didn’t breathe in didn’t dare
high as Eiffel’s nose when we spotted him, a nifty view passing Pont Neuf
a basilisk of bright-green flames whooshing and shooshing him along, joy
enough, snazzy as can be,  a beautiful boat bound for the golden isles and
people shouting he can see in the park see in the dark the speckles and
beads a new kind of breathing a basket of dreams for the king who has
asked would he risk the sun tasked him with breathing richly neuf neuf
neuf
a blue & gold lung flumping to life it was wondrous, tears in the
ascent, a bright halation on the Paris sky the stars on the tarry night
twisting and howling the air so brisk the sky wimpled with birds and he
whiffled like the jub-jub bird past Notre Dame peered into its window a
far cry from the muddy river he knew he should neither trifle nor tarry and
so he iffled past the Eiffel we could see in a jiffy we would be stifled in
purple if he didn’t swerve when he was carried on the four winds with big
bulgy cheeks and whiffly streaks we could hear the angels singing the four
winds blowing below him let them blow until i am light-headed such a
lovely flight beyond knowing what we have seen and lands have i found
luminous with a cinnamon moon voluminous with sun the fluffed clouds
iffly as the king’s beard and the seraphim on the shuddering air and the
cascading light

***

Photo © Dennis Cooley