Smoke Sailing Slowly Over the Hills Without Rising
Their heavy voices precede them like loaded wheelbarrows. If they lean too far
forward, the load spills. Somebody has to shovel it. Somebody has to speak deeply to
keep this an honorable profession.
Later the voices hold a memory like a man resting his head between a woman’s
legs as she sleeps, with no religion to tell him what it means, a large globe of warmth in
the cup at the center.
Have the men forgotten the voice that says, “Obey” and “Go” and “Lie down,” the
one directed at their own bodies like a chunk of black earth?
And when some of the men part the thick poetic muck of self-indulgent anguish,
they cannot find themselves. They cannot stem their own righteous sowing.
O glorious outrage and clamor. O beautiful propaganda.
Some of the men rant at that unfaithful bitch the sea, yearning for its lost moon.
Some damn the sunset bleeding all over the horizon. And some, with an awkward
staggering sway, mourn their shipwrecked lives, cut by the clock’s dull scissors.
Some defend their conflicted pride. As if the green alphabet of lust ever belonged
to men only.
Some simply stand in one place and trouble about with their hungry hands.
If a woman whispers, “body,” the wind answers. If a woman says “wind,” the earth
whispers. If a man says “earth,” his body trembles beneath his feet. If a woman says,
“earth,” the trembling rises.
If a man and a woman think of “effortless grazing in the hayfield,” a concept of
time is born in which a watch may have become engaged to a watch.
The men are asking the women to answer like clouds, but the clouds only follow
the wind. The women are asking the men to release birth without bursting through the
An ordinary man offers his confession, which isn’t anything new, except for the
clumsy brilliance of his empty pockets. He is holding a box of rutting elk and smoking a
damsel in distress. Old cans of pygmy stew are stacked in his closet. Father, why did I
let you out of your skin?
The man dressed like an outlaw so that if he was ever truly surrounded by good,
they’d find him and recognize his uniqueness, but of course their white hats were never
really white enough and his rooms always sent their corners to visit him, which brought
with them women who thought he was secretly better than they were and they tried to fix
what they thought they had made wrong in him.
The men gathered the pale blue bulbs of washed onions at dusk.
The men wanted to be riding a possibility, right then, the men wanted a reason, not
just mooning over the neighbor’s musk, not just How do you like me so far? But
something dangerous came down from the hills, God-breath like the stench of fear, as if
when the angels leapt for the passing train, the weight of their bodies increased.
Rich Ives is the author of Tunneling to the Moon: A Psychological Gardener’s Book of Days currently being published in serial @ Silenced Press everyday in 2014 and forthcoming in paperback. Begin from the beginning, catch up, read daily. Just refer to the Burrow Guide.