Stage Design/American Drama
Down front on America’s stage—
awash in a universe
of light arranged by
the ultimate technician.
Come closer. Anticipate
on these shores fashions
fool’s gold of surf that heaves against
foam-smoothed, lobster black,
slick rock beaches of northern Maine/
bubbles about black rubber boots of men in boats—
another day, another dime,
shivered away in ancient rime—
adrift in fog on the black
Grand Canyon sunrise
copper and white/
orange and green/
over many thousand pounds
of brash brown
in every direction/especially down.
Soldierly shadows armed with swords
of slivered sunlight hack through scrub
like so much meat, to each day’s final
battle at the canyon’s rim/
while a mile below the torment
called the Colorado
turns silver and gold,
black, blue, and
Louisiana bayous trickle chlorophyll caramel over twisted hickory sentinels, monumental elms and sycamores—even the alligators. More mystery here than far-flung nebulae—and everything fighting back ***** green kudzu.
The Badlands of South Dakota, striped like the surface of a ***** peppermint planet—sizzling in the sun, bone cold in the shade—knobby tan canyons wrapped in ribbons of rust that dribble sounds one can neither recall nor reproduce.
Same phenomenon frames dawn over spongy folds of tall green cilia ocean called simply The Plains.
Kansas, Nebraska, horizons so far away thunderstorms creep along like dark, threatening slugs.
Distant night fireworks laden with punishing hail hide tornadoes and winged farmhouses in the horizontal gloom. In the morning—those sounds again. Critters? Wind. Ghosts, maybe.
Spectral mists of the Great Northwest cloak clear-cut sores on Nature’s sacred,
fragrant, deep green shores, falling steep to the creamy Pacific.
Light's a plaything here. Big Sur
renders color to gem, sparkles
down the coast
to rusty Golden Gate and grimy LA,
where the sun goes down brown
and the rain shines
like gun metal.
homicidal redheaded cousin running loose, looking for trouble—
grows swampy hardwood groves/
leaves hung limp from humidity/
masking antebellum secrets/
offering sanctuary to voodoo practitioners and moonshiners alike.
Magic, danger, ******, and ghosts
of slaughtered slaves wander tight-packed old-growth forests.
Some say the soil is red from ancient conflict,
unanswered pleas for mercy drowned
in the drenching rains
strayed north from the Gulf of Mexico.
Others claim tears of countless mothers will never leave
Civil War blood completely dry.
Northern New England foliage--
master maples drunk on fresh cider/
psychedelic finger-paint exhibitionists high on
the year’s last harvest,
intoxicated by Nature’s largess/
symphonies of scarlet, tangerine, lemon, even purple--
regal birds migrate over lakes so blue
you could chip your teeth on them,
and a diehard hemlock conducts its final green opus to a sea of primary colors.
Iowa is quiet and corn, obscuring whole towns and the lives held captive therein. All the green on Earth is planted here; all the sun, all the sapphire sky feeding knee-high-by-July crops, bleaching spare white churches, white picket fences, white-on-white generations and all their vanilla dreams.
Linger beneath Montana’s cobalt crystal canopy to know why it’s called Big Sky.
Stark, Crazy Mountains chase stuttering clouds above treeless, tumbleweed towns,
bathed in the same blues as Wyoming, blown through a wild man’s horn.
A wink of sunlight
mirrored in unseen peaks
perhaps hundreds of miles away—
snow so white/Rocky Mountains so hard and gray—
behind a universe of wheat flatness beckoning the eye to infinity, slowly,
slowly, the Continental Divide rises
from the horizon like a monster parade balloon filling with gas on another continent.
The Flat Irons--majestic stone slabs lounging against Boulder's nearby foothills--
were cursed by ancient observers.
One peek at their precarious slopes compels you to return.
Been back three times and I’m still not sure I believe it.
Southwestern deserts’ blaze,
haze, and halo—spotlights hot,
focused on towering sandstone totems.
Deep gashes of flowering canyon, adrift in the flat and barren,
rage water, mud, and death during summer storms.
Scrub and sand, dust and desolation, land unfit for demons.
Get thee behind me, Arizona.
Endless, straight, lonely two-lanes
carve the lunar landscape of west Texas
into parcels of wasteland, miles marked by
bleached carcasses of ranch animals
and their predators, some hung
on fences as a warning
that people really do
Cities have their place,
but my heart can’t pound to the beat of traffic
like it does to waterfall spray.
Turn your back to the fire in sufficient twilight and a mountain range sharpens into a line—
coyotes prowling, howling on the perimeter.
To spy on a wild animal lost in thought.
The sight--and sound--as swans alight or leave a hidden pond.
Northern lights and swamp gas,
everywhere the stench
is what matters—
all around us—
This is about the fifteenth iteration of this piece. It keeps shifting from prose to poem and back again--or worse. I lost control of it long ago. Please help me rein this ***** in. Workshop?