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 Sep 2013 Johnny Zhivago
A rhythmic whipping of winds on the pine trees,
Mescaline mind, staring through tawny windows and thinking of America
  That easy breezy, ****** wind again, blowing blow from laps of men
  Tripping on paving slabs, adobe piles and rubble pouring through city streets
  Thorny throned king calls out his wife's name
No response, no reprise, water fills the eyes of the owl as he watches
  A lizard through the grass with no legs, and the oxford comma blues
  A rider on horseback, gallop through the gully, hair screaming, maddening flights
  Frightening nights in the Texas desert as consumptive creatures crawl on broken sand
Feel the eyes of the devil, searing the seer
  and the car that once roamed gaily now fails daily
  Left in bereavement on the side of a road
  Crying into calloused hands, wailing for the whale's lost daughter
Sea-dive, see me dive, watch me drive, across country, to a home I will know
When I see it.
I watched the turtle dwindle day by day,
Get more remote, lie limp upon my hand;
When offered food he turned his head away;
The emerald shell grew soft. Quite near the end
Those withdrawn paws stretched out to grasp
His long head in a poignant dying gesture.
It was so strangely like a human clasp,
My heart cracked for the brother creature.

I buried him, wrapped in a lettuce leaf,
The vivid eye sunk inward, a dull stone.
So this was it, the universal grief:
Each bears his own end knit up in the bone.
Where are the dead? we ask, as we hurtle
Toward the dark, part of this strange creation,
One with each limpet, leaf, and smallest turtle---
Cry out for life, cry out in desperation!

Who will remember you when I have gone,
My darling ones, or who remember me?
Only in our wild hearts the dead live on.
Yet these frail engines bound to mystery
Break the harsh turn of all creation's wheel,
for we remember China, Greece, and Rome,
Our mothers and our fathers, and we steal
From death itself its rich store, and bring it home.
'Listen, now, verse should be as natural
As the small tuber that feeds on muck
And grows slowly from obtuse soil
To the white flower of immortal beauty.'

'Natural, hell! What was it Chaucer
Said once about the long toil
That goes like blood to the poem's making?
Leave it to nature and the verse sprawls,
Limp as bindweed, if it break at all
Life's iron crust. Man, you must sweat
And rhyme your guts taut, if you'd build
Your verse a ladder.'
'You speak as though
No sunlight ever surprised the mind
Groping on its cloudy path.'

'Sunlight's a thing that needs a window
Before it enter a dark room.
Windows don't happen.'
So two old poets,
Hunched at their beer in the low haze
Of an inn parlour, while the talk ran
Noisily by them, glib with prose.
Evans?  Yes, many a time
I came down his bare flight
Of stairs into the gaunt kitchen
With its wood fire, where crickets sang
Accompaniment to the black kettle"s
Whine, and so into the cold
Dark to smother in the thick tide
Of night that drifted about the walls
Of his stark farm on the hill ridge.

It was not the dark filling my eyes
And mouth appalled me; not even the drip
Of rain like blood from the one tree
Weather-tortured.  It was the dark
Silting the veins of that sick man
I left stranded upon the vast
And lonely shore of his bleak bed.

— The End —