the days grow long and you know you should go outside

to walk in the rain, feel the moon, get a good sun spank,

and sweat in the shadow of shade trees

while children play in the grass


instead, days are long, dawn and noon and sunset

slip between the blinds, clock hands point to gloom

at the end of pen that you use to sign your name

on a piece of paper a boy will find one day

on the way home


it will flap in the street before the pile of a building

where workers with rough hands chip mortar from brick

the boy will try to make sense of the long sentences, the marks,

try to imagine the person the name represents

then, he will drop that paper back into the gutter and wander

off to make his marks


the long days will grow short and you’ll want to go outside

to hear bird songs, run your hands over the ribs of your lover,

kiss children playing in the leaves, rise from the shade into autumn sunset

to step into what’s been dug for you

and dance


The woman at the sales conference dreams of sturgeon

She’s in the back row,

rays of moted sunlight in this room

distract her from her work.



At the head table, words, sales figures, facts, selling points

flutter like ash from a housefire,

urgent, bright, smoky—flecks catch on the surface

of the river of opening remarks,

spiral on eddies beneath the product table.



A trout’s jumped over in coffee and rolls,

crabs click on the fruit trays,

goldfinches flit in the chandeliers.

A frog in the breast pocket of the CEO’s suit

leaps to fly-swarmed fact sheets and catalogs.



On the opposite shore, where carpet spreads like grass

beneath cedar-ratcheted bluffs,

she lounges, blue sky flashes off the back of her eye.

She sighs; her breath smells of rain on pines,

she feels cool river sand between her toes.



Sturgeon poke weary eyes out of the sand

at the end of shrouded folding tables.

When the fish move, reeds wave bony fingers at the clouds;

cottonwoods rattle in the wind.


a brief infidelity


i never loved you more

than i did this afternoon

when we met in front of the cafe


we should have been in Rome

sipping coffee in the Piazza Navonna,

our feet in the Fountain of the Four Rivers


I can see it now

we laugh and splash out of the fountain

to prop our wet feet up on the tanks


the soldiers have aimed their cannon

toward Trastevere at the old woman

who stands at a window and sings

ballads about wars Italians always lose


below her, spies run narrow alleys

and wine drips from pergola into mouths of cupids—

the baker shouts after school boys

who steal loaves from his stand out front


we loll in the Fontana di Trevi,

invite romans to join us in a fiesta of legs,

haunches, generous bosoms,

and men whose backsides make the old woman

remember the days when the boys were soft and taut


the pope climbs to St. Peter’s cupola

to issued another bull about people

making love in fountains and mocking soldiers

in tanks protecting the virtue of the republic


we wait a few minutes and make love again—

the old woman recites poems

while her husband, wrinkled like Umbria,

strums the whores of Perugia like lyres


people stream from theaters, love exhausted,

eyes glassy bright—fishermen jump

bow to bow across the Po


young lovers care not about fascisti, spia, polizia segreta

but only that Pan has ushered in a time of forgetfulness


yes, the soldiers turtle out of the tanks now

and the waiter at the Cafe Navonna

wears nothing but his apron


along the alleys, spies pine for days

when wretchedness was good business


young lovers stretch out along grapevines

and wine flows from the lips and nipples and penises

of every marble cherub and god


the old man runs off with his Perugian whores;

the old woman stands naked in the window

flanked with strong, anxious young men,

with never-ending hard ons and a penchant for service


she sings arias to linden budding in the square


under the statue of St. Andrew, the pope has given up,

he wanders St. Peter’s, raises his hands to heaven, cries,

and the world rejoices at rebirth


in this moment on a sidewalk

you and I become complete,

whole, needing nothing

with god’s blessing

an end to the drought

Guillermo José Guerra Hernandez Carrillo

never complained about drought

it will end, he said, it always does


the tequila never stopped, and for him

that was almost as good as rain sweeping over the desert

breaking the monotony of sun and heat


one night, Memo sang about how he and his Comanche kin

rode with Pancho Villa, picked their way across the sky islands,

and shot Texas Rangers for fun and sport


the revolution was good then, he said, anything went

a strapping woman with red hair and a winchester

squeezed him and his horse until they fainted with delight


Pershing and his Army regulars, Obregon’s frumpy green men,

ran eyes wide, mouths agape, lungs bursting,

from Villa’s Mexicans, Comanches, and what was left of the Apaches


Memo and Villa’s men waved their rifles like antennae,

and showed Pershing’s Punitive Expedition a modern war

where fairness was a matter of opinion


cool wind sweeps up over Chihuahua tonight

over the gravestones on this bank of the Rio Bravo del Norte

where Carrillo danced in the blond grass with a jug of wine


rain falls with a sigh


the gardener swims in a sea

of jonquil, gladiola, nasturtium


the spring wind pushes waves

against her knees, her boots and wrists


she moves through the waves,

her hands float on the soil

like anemones fluttering in current


she stands, the sea parts,

flowers gush from her basket


at one edge of the ocean,

butterfly peas gather

like a crowd on a pier

awaiting a passenger ship


how like astronauts they look

these men and women

who stitch bedrock to the sky


carpenters, ironworkers,

jumpered against the cold, bound in slow-motion

over torn, heaved landscape


excavators, shovels, and backhoes

minuet with dump trucks and dynamite

to crush rock and rearrange the earth


architects and foremen gesture over tables,

chew cigars, eat sandwiches from bags,

their breaths hang in the air

as they interpret writ holy as old scrolls


a cloud of limestone dust sifts down

over operators, hod carriers, common laborers–

ancient sediments and fossils

transformed into the raw material

of hopes, dreams, and just plain work

Four days out of the oven

This was her pie—a peck of apples

some walnuts, a pear,

done up with butter-flake dough,

sprinkled with cinnamon sugar.


Juice-smeared blade

set on fresh laundered towel;

bowls, pans, measuring cups

flour coated, the tin slick with butter.


Grooves in the lattice—

second thoughts, realignments,

thoughts vanished with the thinker.


When she died, the recipe died with her,

her last pie, retrieved from the deep freeze

where she stored garden beans,

bunches of kale, this year’s asparagus,

and meats she bought on sale.


A pie for us

to celebrate her life by.


Around the room, I watch mourners’ forks

crush notches where her thumb

pushed the dough between two fingers,

held slightly apart.


that night we walked along dry creeks

and into the desert outside of Chinle


cottonwoods rattled in hazy, hot wind

the sound floated over locusts,

and hung in corners of hogans


we struck match to sagebrush

told stories of Kit Carson’s soldiers

burning houses, fields, killing ponies


wind rocketed down the canyon

and into the night, and we dreamed

that the Indians won that war


in pink, desert dawn,

ravens squawked and strutted

around our camp


ready to pluck out our eyes

when we weren’t looking

highway beautification

highway prettification’s been a problem

since appius claudius cæcus

decided to move his legions

faster, farther, and more efficiently


in all these years—

nay, millennia—

of highway engineering,

only romans invented

a decent landscaping program


romans planted romans

along the shoulder of the appian way

in single-eyebrowed mausoleums,

sprawling columbaria that the slaves kept garden fresh


i imagine gravestones, urns, mausoleums

decorated with crosses, stars of david,

vases, crescent moons, bronze baby booties

for a hundred thousand miles of drab,

debris-beleaguered blight


i see death behind guardrails,

along shoulders of interstate,

four- and two-lane urban and rural highway


no more need to plant or mow,

to send people in orange vests

to pluck plastic shopping bags,

sun-faded wreaths, and litter

from no-man’s land