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Two Landscapes

ISSUE:  Summer 1996


Those trees have a bad case of insomnia. I need a reasonable god.
I can’t go on believing in these disappearances—
too many banal sunsets, too many lovers strolling, lost
beneath the lunatic stars. Who is manning the switches?
Who will save our skins? I thought I’d be given the key.
I can dream, can’t I? Do the wind’s bullying tactics irritate the
The shadows, in exile, crawl into cramped spaces—stairwells
and kitchen drawers. Houses are tyrannized by dust and cobwebs.
The light is conducting a search. I’ll not be questioned further!
It rummages through dead leaves, looking for damp places
on the forest floor. Why does the light spell it all out?
The future—its bolts secure and no Exit signs—
where I’m walking upside down, will never be repeated,
never be lived. Why are the leaves shaking as if caught
between tears and laughter? I don’t know. Maybe the landscape,
about to drain away through a ragged hole, is held in place for a
by a fly clinging to a white-washed wall.


I’m not talking about the red clouds of summer,
I’m talking about a way of life, a fit of anger, fine linen,
needlework, and the sole of a shoe. I’m talking about
an omen, the last straw, and another long silence driving us crazy.
I’m talking about gazing into a landscape of rubble,
the good and evil crowded together in our braincells,
the clouds turning violet, as sensitive as litmus paper.
I’m talking about getting stuck in traffic, déjà vu, the high notes
flying out of control, lack of goodwill, and unstructured freedom
of choice. I’m talking about eavesdropping, an ear to the wall,
crouched on all fours, moored to this world by nothing
but a rotten start. I’m talking about survival problems,
and grief burning in your throat like whiskey.
I’m talking about false starts, rankling feuds, and the insatiable
for love, I’m talking about dying embers, brute facts, guffaws,
and your eyes squinting against the glare.
I’m talking about the haze among the orange trees,
and the wilting bougainvillea. I’m talking about nostalgia,
freshly laundered shirts, a big cigar, craggy rocks,
pure conjecture, bad habits, and trees slipping into shadow.
I’m talking about lofty intentions, bluffs along the river,
errors of judgment, rain on the roof, and the coffee back at Rosy’s.
I’m keeping my suitcase packed. All I want
is cool grass, a state of grace, and a new guitar.


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