UNDERGROUND VOICES: POETRY
JOHN MACKER

Deep Song
    -after Jack Hirschman


the sun is as far south as it’s
going to shine, its apogee faces another
solstice blaze of snow, it glints
off their resurrected revolvers like an extra-
terrestrial wink-

the wind blows triggerfingers of desert
zen across the stone mind of
                          la frontera
scattering the landscape with
broken sleep
             & dreams..

a talon moon claws the west

There’s an ancient deep song
sung by poets, Andalusian
gypsies & matadors,
forever young,
drenched in sangre as
the desert wind blows roadside bombs
over the solstice heart of Aztlan-

& they explode in my dreams
like gaudy flowers.

On my front porch
the wind blows deep song through the bitter-
sweet jangle of the chimes,
the wind blows out the incandescent hiss
of my campfire,
deep song blows a bounty through
the truncated dreams of a Gila wolf,
deep song pulses through the family
blood of a future father’s
trembling night-long wait in an
arroyo under the border wire.

Some days the gaudy flower of the sun
shines down on me like
A smiling stoned holy man wandering
Sonora In July;
Other days, when I think of war
the deep song of the sun rises slowly from its apogee
plaintive & raw-boned,
sluggish, radiance more
ritual than desire
drought-chafed expressionless
spews shadows without passion
roams la frontera during
these doldrums of January
Mother of dry rivers, Sam Peckinpah
& Garcia Lorca

harbinger of imminent
summers.


Nana's Raid

The most absolute of the predatory tribes
Apache policy was to extirpate
Every trace of civilization
From their province.
       -Ed Dorn


After the long, serpentine summer
hemorrhaged the elegiac earth,
southern New Mexico
oozed with vipers at the news of
Victorio’s death, implicit in all of us
riding down the bones of history,
is the temperature at which war kills;
these are the first rogue hours of autumn,
I’ve been there, the
membranous red cottonwood leaves rustle
restlessly scattershot across
these arid echoless floors,
the climactic pollen burns,
the cholla spindly & pale in the sharp moonlight
& something from the future,
a harsh wind from another branded time
assaults this ghost shirt
of a border town,
these dilated arroyos,
what was once the placid succor of
the October air,
with invisible griefs. It

won’t rain for months, now.
Fellow warrior Nana, confidant,
grandfather, respected elder, dreams ristras
of dried blood, the color of the terminal
leaves & they scatter what’s left of
his Warm Springs band, Ojo
Caliente;
the buffalo soldiers north
of the border are closing in on the
mimbreńo like thunder.

Cochise dead, Mangas Coloradas decapitated, flesh
boiled off the skull & sent to the Smithsonian,
Victorio ambushed, Nana survives because
coyote will burn his enemies’ last minutes alive
against the moon with laughter,
because a kind of nascent border satori
is tattooed on his soul,
because “their madness
is my madness”,
like Bird or Corso, later rebel Norte
Americanos, he burned life at both ends
& Robert Creeley, (unlike Lawrence in
New Mexico): “I didn’t feel comfortable
with Indians.”

O Masked God Of Torturers, smile down upon
this wasteland.

Lozen, Victorio’s warrior sister, prophet,
strategist, shaman, carries the medicine bag,
has the power to locate enemies-
joins Nana on his three-month long
campaign of borderlands vengeance,
1881, spits tobacco on the eyelid of fate,
has peyote visions of the end of Apache time,
the psychedelic gecko,
supreme deity Ussen,
this “provoking figure of the horsewoman”
seduces her incorrigible brothers into heretofore
unheard of acts of endurance & brutality;
between Janos & the Sacramento mountains,
they cover over a thousand miles,
70 to 80 miles a day, kill
30-50 Americans, wound dozens,
win all clashes
with the army
rustle hundreds of horses & mules;
Nana, close to 80, has
to be helped on & off every exhausted
pony he leaves on the broiling pavement to die.

No Pocahontas, she lives to be a funky,
proud old woman.

They were the desert’s curative response to
the redundancy of a singular European conceit-
a sovereign nation reacts to the squalid
fecal hell that was reservation San Carlos
in summer,
the temperature at which war kills.









© 2007 Underground Voices