JOHN MACKER

“An Underwebbing Of Customary Magic”

A ride through the homicidal winter
Of January, just this side of the Texas line
Jack’s got frostbite
On his big toe on account of
His worn out boots, no shit,
We’re in the vanilla center of
A religious white-out, must
Be close to midnight, we’re freezing
Shitless & surly as badgers;

I swear, my
Cock’s frozen still-life to the inside of
My leg in my britches & my ass
Is frozen like a shaved otter
To my saddle &
To make matter’s worse, Jack’s got
A bullet hole in his cheek, it lodged in his
Gums, in front of his wisdom teeth
There on the left side if you’re looking
At him straight on &
I’ll be goddamned if he don’t complain
To himself in absolute .44 caliber silence.
The guy’s like a fucking Benedictine monk who’s
Taken a vow of poverty which is why we
Rustle like we do as well as we do & a vow
Of the zippered mouth, too- most of
Us only go south once in our lives,
Might as well do it with a snowflake’s
Worth of quiet dignity.

Suddenly, Jack, bent over his saddle horn
Like a ragged scythe begins speaking, softly,
A bloody cat’s paw for a tongue:
“Grasshoppers swarm
through the desert
there are only grasshoppers
Lady
Of Guadalupe
Make my sight clear
Make my breath pure
Make my arm stronger and my fingers tight
Lady Of Guadalupe, lover
Of many make
Me avenge
Them.”

The radio tonight will not tell
Of the death of Billy The Kid.
Or Jack Spicer. Will not permit it. Even
With these wounds I mock this travesty of
A storm front birthed with a whimper
In the faraway womb of the Sangres. In blizzards
We do all the singing for the birds.
As a morale boost to Jack I say:
“Stay awake hombre,
let us fake out a frontier-
a poem somebody could hide in with a sheriff’s
posse after him-
a poem with no hard corners, no underwebbing
of customary magic . . . only a place Billy The Kid
can hide when he shoots people . . . the poem.”

In all this distance, who’ll recognize my face?

An overwebbing of thick cloud post-
Midnight, low to the ground, surly mist still
Spitting snow, cholla clusters scrape at my
Pant legs, bellicose radio static to the skin
Seemingly everywhere, the humming of
Bare naked wire overhead in the wind, a Texas
Affectation to be sure, just as the thundering hooves
Of barbaric Panhandle justice are meeting their
Doom on the horizontal, faux-arctic prairie.
Where the Comanche
With a sudden infusion of equine
Energy torture & kill upended
American Cadillacs in the name of
Homeland security while leaving
Coyote to his own devices.

In all this distance I recognize his face. The poem.


Call Me The Doc Holliday Of Language

Of misanthropic scorpions, dust dervishes
Dry rivers
The psilocybin horizon
Diseases of the lung
Have no voice in this outback
Of an era
I witnessed the fall of the South
In Colorado, I heard my disembodied
Voice in the tall pine
Thunderheaded she-rain.
I move from one incandescent
Quick-draw to another seduced
With the knowledge that this
Is more an occult gesture
Than gun hand.

I speak Latin.
I’ve opened De Vinci’s notebook
To where it says The Last Supper
In the dark of the bar
Three fingers of sour mash
I bend over the glowing pages
Like a high priest.

I am the voice of the wasteland,
The wasted, the outgunned, the
Disenfranchised
The black hollyhock
The mockingbird’s psychedelic
Soundtrack to the simple act
Of me, riding my pony
Across the movies as a kid.


John Macker lives in Northern New Mexico with his wife in an old roadhouse on the Santa Fe Trail.
Books and broadsides of poetry include For The Few, The First Gangster, Burroughs At Santo
Domingo, 2 +2=1,
and black/wing (cd) among others. In 2001, won the James Ryan Morris Memorial
“Tombstone” Award for poetry. Has given public readings with writers such as S.A. Griffin,
Frank Rios, Tony Scibella, Gregory Corso, Andy Clausen, Ed Dorn, Linda Hogan among others.
Has had essays and poems published in journals and magazines throughout the U.S. including,
most recently, Manzanita Quarterly, Sin Fronteras (Writers Without Borders), Pitchfork, Black
Ace Book 7, Mercury Reader, A People’s Ecology: Explorations In Sustainable Living and a large
section from a new manuscript Adventures In The Gun Trade was featured in Mad Blood #2, October
2003. In Colorado, in the early-mid 90’s edited the award-winning literary arts journal, Harp,
which featured interviews and poetry by Robert Bly, Gregory Corso, Charles Bukowski,Tony
Scibella, Diane DiPrima and many others. Has two dogs and when time permits, listens to the wind.






© 2003 Underground Voices