JOHN MACKER

the roaring stillness across open ground

I’m kicking up the desert dust with my two dogs
on the kind of dry crisp morning
that draws the blue sky down around
it & everything that exists under it
the hummingbirds
spanish bayonet
the enflamed loose ends of war, the

yellow snakeweed & bahia
blossoms bobbing in the breeze
like rogue stars. The
emergence myths that rise from
the earth in ghost vendettas of
language.
The piney smell of the hike
resuscitates us
mothers us into knowing
these rituals come with the territory-
where we’re amazed at the proximity
of faraway war,
its roaring stillness across open ground:

lone rufous hummer
destined for Mexico
last supper of the summer at
our plastic nectar blossom,
controlled burn-colored body hovering:
thinks I’m the chief flower of my species
crisscrosses my Hawaiian shirt like
a bandolier,
signifying a farewell of sorts,
the last of his tribe still this far north
from the Crossing of the Fathers to
the Rio Grande
a thousand heartbeats per minute

miles to go before real peace.


Hungers Like Every Blowing Wildness

His pale face turns crimson
in the white heat of the desert
he palavers with the September distance
between the morning’s first dry breath
& the border.
Out here even infinity has an edge
underneath it the lost souls cross
a thousand distinct
hungers like every blowing
wildness of dusk etched on these
threadbare blue skies.

Out here, hell is a blank white page
our wars are written on & when the
ink dries like some future dead river
we’ll stay poor
elusive
under the devil’s breath.
Our names are Billy, Cochise, Juan,
Pedro, Victorio, Alias, Juh.
Her names are Serafina, Maria, Linda
any flowing river’s softness:
a female rain tamping the earth
like faraway barefoot steps
in a dream.

The rising pale moon over my shoulder
is a battle-scarred desert
trickster, she pulls the baked sand &
mesquite up into the blackness with her
& bathes all souls moving towards
oblivion below
in her transparent aching
light.

I think I smell scalp-hunters, one of us said.

A sensation of the nose crawling through
the thick hot air, of sizzling flesh;
red, nine inch nail faces like sunburnt
homicides palavering with
no living thing;
rancid, dreamless nights
bandoliers criss-crossing
tattooed chests
ex-slaves, white trash shanty
Irish, Texans, Comancheros, Mexicans
Mongols of the Sonora
pursuing the summer Apache
Back to Janos.
They’re giddy with trance & fever
stopped dead in their tracks on the
cusp of civilization
half broiling lathered ponies wide-eyed
with anticipation of the
fresh kill just over the line
in Texas.

Serafina holds Juan in her sandy arms
a multitude of remote silences & whispers
on the arroyo bottom.
I am your woman of the disturbed earth.
Didn’t make it to water intime.
Her brothers are handcuffed to
each other on the highway near Covered Wells.

A coyote crosses the arroyo, a trance-like
smile on his mouth. Stands over a pale, frail rat
his evening tongue turned crimson. Disposition
of the survivor,
yips for a temporary companion
In the red-tipped ocotillo desert.


John Macker’s most recent book is Adventures In The Gun Trade, (Las Vegas: Long Road/Temple of Man,2004).
Previous books include The First Gangster and Burroughs At Santo Domingo. An “epic” poem, Wyoming Arcane
will appear in the pages of mad blood #4 next spring. Lives in the foothills of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains
in northern New Mexico.






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