A BRIEF HISTORY
An empty room did not exist.
The plain was wide and far.
Its attic was filled with stars.
The forest was full of clothes.
We had to eat and so did they.
Teeth were cruel and so were we.
We made our own teeth that tore.
Sharpened stone flew like thought.
We ate until the bone was hollow.
Then we made a flute.
We called the wind and the dead.
The dead slept curled in the wind.
An empty room did not exist.
Then we built a box.
And caught the empty wind
and sailed to all the shores.
Some were slaves, hanged or whipped.
Some wore gold and owned the world.
Now an empty room is all around.
But the dead are nowhere found.
(the laws of morning)
The morning June sun builds threads of light
from sleep to street, and workers awaken the city
where night dreamed,
and the bustle of bus and business
but in the museum of my skull, I see
gold leaves glide dim homesteads of dead summers,
rain-worn buildings lean into
windows open to the weather, and wise flowers
spooked at morning into explosions of dust!
Surprises travel like hunted pigeons the bridges of rust,
and I remember those rivers when I first
felt the dead haunt the edge of twilight under
the white rock hung in the slant of the sky,
the moon that owns the old evening...
and the myths
that guided ancestors blazing in the stars...
where have they gone,
those parents of the dust
so infinitely quieted and hidden in the air,
their campfires the wind long ago erased?
They departed the party, walked into the river,
or place where
rain and river meet.
They sang themselves into the final legend,
ripples and rapids of our brief mortal waters...
(the romantic past)
Who owns the old plow
that tore open the earth,
planted the corn and fences
the Indians could not cross...
The wood handles are cracked
where hands once steered the blade,
its resins lost to night air...
Who owns the broken tools,
the decrepit cabin, its stove
now home to squirrels, the door
gone, a hole with useless hinges?
Who owns the farm now?
With heart and suffering
the workers built from the earth
the human voice that would sing
in the green wind of morning.
It was a machine like no other.
With heart and suffering,
while the stone would not move,
or the storm came with dark pronouncements,
or the thief with a knife came to steal a dream,
or the thief with soldiers came to steal a country,
yet the people, the workers worked and built
a voice, raised it up toward the gloaming,
and named the impermanence of the stars.
(the laws of dusk)
The high courts of noon
will whip the dead into the earth.
And yet, in a universe with
the heaviness of the heart
built into the heart, nevertheless
we drag our shadows, weightless
as we shall become, toward
the communal dusk where
our dream selves labor to construct
rooms from the lumber of the moon.
(a morning when dreams awaken, maybe)
That morning when lions of light
tear through the dark, then...
That morning when rivers purl rumors
of ancient dawns, then...
That morning when the first word
shed the husk of silence like a seed, then...
That morning when branches speak blossoms
from their roots of history, then...
That morning when red dawn bursts
with news of all other colors, then...
That morning when we understand at last
there is plenty of light...
That morning when we know
the face of the wind is everyone's face, then...
That morning when stones dream wings
and wings dream flight through stone, then...
That morning when workers come into the streets
and are called a city, then...
That morning when conscience is a sky
innocent as a child's leisure, then...
That morning when tomorrow is a door
"you shall not enter except in peace," then...
That morning when no one goes hungry
in a world become everyone's name...