For Kenneth & Miriam

This rose stands for
bowls and bowls of roses
floating on miles of water
softly wind-blown
from my island to yours.

In a Field of Raw Potatoes

You call it a field of sunshine.
I feel you carried by a wind along powerlines,
driven more than one way;
looking each morning in a dipper

Your own face in water spills,
You drink it.

In your hands, stones are benign.

Let earth hurl
a ton of ocean, ton of beach
under lightspeed
through dark: old atmospheres
forever away.

In your hands a star would lie quiet.

The simple mystery of hand-eye
tip-of-finger, failed leaf

You direct feeling toward wild crows,
limiting a fence, in sharp wind,
all struggle to keep place,
you would do it for them.

The Rifle Barrel
For Kenneth Patchen

When Mr. Youngstown Steel
eats flapjacks, animals toil
in boots and shoes, filling ingots
of butter and pouring raspberry jam
through steaming tubes into the sky.

Greasy pigtails of oil
slink into rivers.

When Mr. Youngstown Steel
cleans his rifle, the National Guard
clubs an anarchist across the face
in Mexico City. The commanders
of all the world’s armies
chatter over coffee
in the splendid home of
Mr. Youngstown Steel.

In the glittering rain

of ash, Mr. Steel buys chances
on futures, the concussion of grenades
helps him think, the music of larks
is an unrequited kiss
beating at his window.

Upon the sudden appearance of doves
his back turns. When they cut the wind,
with mere wings, Mr. Youngstown
hears rotor-blades and high-velocity
ammunition fluttering on soft targets.

The mill funnels blood and debris
through hell in its bowels.
A rancid humor permeates the grounds.
the rifle barrel is a peg leg
for Mr. Youngstown Steel, who lost an airplane,
with no survivors.

The Lovers

For Kenneth P & Miriam

"You’re a trim dame," said Jack,
seriously. "I know a place
where sand gleams and gold
finches will fly in with a
new skirt at daybreak
smelling of peaches and the outdoors."

"Why don’t I pick you up and
show you where it is?"

He curled his prize mustache and explained,
"I’m king there and all I eat is nectar
from a glass and the bar is a classy joint,
horns in a corner, glass in windows,
minimal gunplay, art splattered on the wall."

© Crawdad Nelson