A Day In The Life Of An Altar Boy

Christmas at Saint Patrick’s Cathedral
for delinquent angels singing Away In The
Manger a cappella with the choir,
the crèche was alive & torpid
with solemnity
the church smelled like pine boughs.

I didn’t realize my exile
standing with tremble bone colt knees
on the December deep freeze streets of Denver
Sister Margaret Mary
married to Jesus
in numinous black
laughing & waving at anything that
moved that Christmas Eve & across Colfax
a group of older kids held up hand made signs
that bobbed like frosted windows
looking out onto Armageddon,
excoriating America
for the bombing of Vietnam.

                           I’m out in the churning wind of New Mexico,
a cup of breakfast tea trembling in
my hand, the latest war of the new
century casts its Godzilla shadow across
the frozen tarn.
I want to tell the shadow of God
I haven’t been a Catholic for years
but I believe in
Apache arrowheads,
hiking across soaring mountain
streams, Joe Strummer & The Clash,
the changing seasons of work & peace,
solstice dusks with two good dogs,
a life lived softly on the edge
bereft of rancor,
Elegiac Feelings American
a desert river.                         

Blues For Pajarito Plateau

I took a walk in the winter drizzle
Los Alamos obscured by clouds
the place to the west where Borges pulled
his dream revolver & exultantly
killed the gods-
I can feel the presence of the secrets
factory, its sullen modernity
& starless shadow history
beneath its face habitual bomb dreamers
aflame underground, their deep toxic
bones moistened by the heat & the last
breath of El Nino.

In my early twenties
when a protest was still a protest-
I listened with granola-hearted mothers
to Corso read “Bomb”
on mountain lawns
of eternal light. When
sitting on the railroad tracks
of Rocky Flats was a privilege &
necessity, shoulder to shoulder
hair to hair with bohemian youth
stars praying
for spiritual guidance in the silvery
handcuffed rains
of a Colorado summer.


starstruck mesa in the clouds:
someday you’ll be de-veined
of your ticking arroyos
& the ancient dissected Bandelier
ash will forever be the earth
within us, the earth
         beyond us.

For Robert Creeley

This morning, half
moon translucent as
rice paper in the blue
sky, Cecil Taylor on the
radio with an anarchy of
imagery, a
surrounding darkness
to beat back, every day

the words help to reduce
this self-
ness to a less obsessed
inquiry, to a
simple pale moon’s
obsession with an
objective brightness,

“patient in time
like a river”, music is
a beautiful word to live
in, to hang on
the moon, to
fervently guard, to
point the way &
will follow.

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.

© 2005 Underground Voices