BY AMY TRUSSELL
Light through an old petticoat
draped over a window
I'm cooking in here thinking how
women saved shells for hoodoo powder
when they cracked eggs against the iron
or shucked oysters to the King Biscuit Flower Hour
In the evening we break the daily grind
With a backward glide
While others do the box step
You float me to the back wall
With the ribs of a sail maker
Or a gamble-aholic out on parole.
The floor is dripped in milk paint
And we follow the footprints
To the higher ground of a torch dance
And a toast of white wine.
brazier moon of resin smoke
It is winter in New Orleans
The Professor, the band, and Shy Sanders
Are just getting warmed up with
Afro-Caribbean jazz and we dance
near a fireplace filled with candles
Too afraid to start the actual blaze
That could bloom out of control
Shy pleads with the Temple Priestess:
Please don't get your serpent out
'cause I know when he get out
baby he got to go to work !
and the muse undulates up the walls
The drums and horns well up
In this precinct that has burned down
and risen again from charred skeletons
the wind crests outside
Strobe of positives and negatives
When I dilate your eyes.
We blow through the wild card streets
Past the peeling houses
And the florists where the
Black gladiolas surrender and bloom
as the humidity climbs and eats into the centers
where to go after this?
In Nashville the carriages are bleached white
Here they're black for a proper jazz funeral
And the horses are restless
Picking up river scent in their nostrils
They hear the train in the distance
cousin to their wild iron blood
It is a long trip up in the hotel elevator
We watch the river lights from the fifteenth floor
Holding the spine of our story carefully
and let it open out as far as a comet
sending its wicking across the night.
SPACE DOOR OFF
boat door, volcano, space door off.
home draped dark cheek, windowsill rafts
nectarine venus, conducted den.
cycle eyes, fishing trap the docked, the navigator me,
an unhinged galaxy of foyer panthers
triples your launch over side cross,
scratches the lagoon wave's thorns.
Paint penetrates shutter for drift course on oil
eyelids sleep holes, leafy nails.
i lantern orbit burnt rose lands,
rain the arms lava, set the returned adrift.
your part dropped hat, driver eyes,
your oil adrift was cycle tripled.
returned den panthers conducted foyer in coarse set eyes.
venus of drifts,
lava belief is nectarine with galaxy arms diver.
was I raft for us? unhinged comes
the shutters are in the tropics if window penetrates rain.
the soft land of curtains darkens in thorns risen.
prayer dropped wave when orbit went black.
my home swallowed lagoon lantern.
the dropped eye, the off navigator's left eye
adores the open nails and space in docked cross.
leaf through parted volcano,
the craft's holy burn. you and trapdoor
slept over fishing boat, new launched eyelids.
your boots burn holes in the side
of the volcano with the space door off.
Kidney vetch surrounds the cabin where we lie
It is an old ranch hand's house where babies
Have been caught by hand, by midwives
And coyotes have trotted the periphery
Sniffing the earth for buried afterbirth
We lie awake in the shade of a partial eclipse
On the other side of the world killing pyrotechnics
Fall like lit torches through layers of oil and gas
We are carbon based life, gut to gut
The hornets sleep in their wattle hive
We are look out in uncertainty near the ledge
Drafts seep in, chilling headlines beneath the door
Everything from black kites dive bombing on cords
To tainted sponges in the Red and Dead Seas
Seems shadowed by structures falling in
Daily we count our twice risen bread
And pears ripening on the branch
Sacs of gold life untouched by war
Cream and smoke blow across the sky
Broken up by jets doing aggressive exercises
Fish roe is poisoned by chemicals
From leaking tankers and trains
And molds are broken for new weapons
They will eventually want to place
In my son's uncalloused artistic hands
A collapsed uterus is what our neighbor had
When it failed giving birth for the sixth time
But the father simmered the placenta
with onions and red wine and she grew strong again
the boy drank goat's milk, and is now nearly of draft age
Today tomatoes ripen in this tangled garden
What light is still here gathers around the children
And filters through their charcoal eyes
We scrape these roots and bones of wild game
To cook a strengthening and drawing stew
STAND UP JAGUAR
Exoskeletons, volcanoed up mica mud.
Pan spermia mars, caves through cell
Second course, one you.
Head waterfall, wave treatment mud.
Water, shoulder, eclipse, moon constellation face.
Shot saturn, assume rock route.
Mexican jaguar snow into pan from vapor.
Pour skin breathing the humidity,
backs your phantom and both sand or sulfur.
The watch with lit cameras in space.
The shoulder and the easel rehearsal.
Reproduce hands without over guiding. Begin.
It blew devils to change breath,
directly buzzing over here, traveling hot shavings.
Head road, wheel rim, painter's canvass tent.
Flying dress will chalk up and blow ash.
Route shoulder, decide and rock the face and hands, my chalk.
Eyes soon space in reproduced will.
Oui. Say "scientist's saturn" for rehearsal.
Dress a shot camera flyby, is this face?
Get up blown paper, get up.
A constellation cup lit is easel painter's moon,
the rim of floating cream eclipse.
The watched road condemned of shoulder, head, lei,
water, sulfur and mud or shaving cedar
or new outcome and treaty.
Sand hot, have your world of parts.
In some ways both traveling light with porous stayed skin,
is there and here between air perfect.
Your buzzing, back directly, evens out my neck.
Your feelings humidify, change breath,
human coarse walls breathe and drift cell's skin away.
Take cave through ploughed water night,
ever cave's vapor and devils dust
us from stars and mars, blue spores.
Those spermia pan or mud into mica snow.
To begin shale, stand up jaguar, guiding volcanic mexican
from over blown ash skeletons.
And sand rubies for digging.
SILENT CURING AMBULANCES
water man waves brush, quenches valley.
silent traffic, woods, dancer-sirens
stirring ceremony into trick water.
the hurried unguents and dreaming herds
that fall into ambulance transfers
downroad buttress valley attachment
sun blends, travels seeping ambulances
i down the quiet eighth wheel
shushed are ambulances
but eyes float the silences, hear?
the dancers' dreaming road
the up floating eye
wood lights, their down turned hills
traffic urgent, transferred ami
silent curing ambulances,
volley of seeping dancers now
quench water around steering wheel
following up the thirteen stairs
the brush trick with window
into blended waves, into fallen sun
the man ceremony, the attaching lights
the water stirred valley
the song curing in the woods
the downing winds of road eight
with a sacred white steer in the sun
WHY HAVE I FORSAKEN THEE?
Dark clouds billowing like oil induced smoke
Cherry blossoms snowing onto the ground
Here a fire inspector is cutting off
A branch and throwing it done
Never mind that we waited all winter
For the life to return to them
So the buds could swell and come forth
Trees are like that-they return to life
Even if you take an arm off
Likewise the fields of grain with machetes
Or the sugar cane in the plantations
What about opium poppies in the Middle East
That keep our kings and barons rich
What will they do when the well runs dry?
And all the oil, those liquid opiates
And now they say its' breast milk, not strawberries
That is the most highly contaminated food
one can transport across borders
Remember the white train that brought
Radioactive waste cutting down through the heartland?
What did it disappear into?
I remember the protestors on the track in a bitter cold
In the blowing Kansas wind and snow without ruby slippers
Every night my friend dreams of bombs that go off
While he hides with his dogs in a ditch New Orleans
And the gentle artist dreamed of giving
her children and herself cyanide pills
Because the down payment had already
Been made on the war
The warlords have been sleeping with the devil
And are preparing to fuck
And I am biting into the flesh of strawberries
My "labyrinthian ear" half turned to radio reports
About tomato pickers' enslavement in Florida
And the test bomb that shook people off the floor
I'm thinking about the pesticides, explosions,
And miscarriages, and "arab shriners" in their
Little cars in the parades all over the bible belt
And Daniel Ellsburg's talking about
the slaves behind the wall
That later became Wall street
And how that's the way this country began
And he mourns how the Native Americans'
Heads were used for kickball there
And as I spew this on wood pulp my son shoots hoops
With an Eretrean, a Black Choctaw, and a Chicano
Peacefully with storm clouds looming on the horizon
The free throw line is drawn in the dust
And I wonder if the whole world stands on the brink of caving in
Like two glass towers built on
The bones of the many dark-skinned civilizations
We tried to grind down
The cobalt hearts of mothers will shatter
When their children come home in body bags
And how the drugs will flow amongst the soldiers
As their only escape route from the hell of war
But the youth don't need to travel to the Bagdad dust to fight a war
There are plenty of demon battles
And plenty of weapons here
I think of the summer of all the young men without direction dying
When I turned twenty
In car wrecks, in suicide, drugged on the train tracks
And the one playing with a loaded gun
My brother's ashes in a gold box
My eldest son announces with tape measure in hand
that he too now is six feet tall
Like so many long limbed soldiers who have minds
That are on the edge of ripening
So I pray that gorgeous satellite, the moon will open and rise
in the hearts of all people
To return them to the grace of the feminine principal
That it will burn a little stronger in the night
So that they will look up, moonstruck
And drop their weapons
And drop to their knees wailing
Mother Mother, why have I forsaken thee?
My son holds up a paintbrush in his hand
And there is a galaxy shimmering in each
drop of pigment
and serpents to shape into powerful allies
behind the black mystery of the canvass
and Indigenous wisdom
from the great circles that still
ring the mighty trees
holding the planet together
and spreading out in concentric waves
as the fractured vision resurrects us from our palettes
saturating us with the light of peace
HISTORY OF OWL WOMEN
Blue frog, humming bird, oviraptor
Breaking eggs from the inside out
Cross of dirt floor and threshold
long crawl towards the altar
Seeds blow into volcanic concretions
Tiny ferns crop up in the bodily moisture of gatherer women
So say the midwives
Irrigation canals. Cities. Staked planet.
Witch(doctor) hunts burned into cell sheath
Evidence that they were weaving with cards
When the ship turned over
Metal invented. Platinum, nickel & silver poured up.
Mirrors, semi-lunar shaped instruments for cutting
Gut thread and needles, wound closure
a pregnant woman licks a piece of white cliff
and the star beyond it because it strengthens the bones
beneath a bowl constellation
waters break on the wet sand of thighs
hush….. hurricane forming in the open limbs of the tree
she stumbles out on the ancient causeway alone
Sheet lightning thrown off the riverbed
Leaf wrappings strewn on the path
~Sacred resins lit and smoking~
the owl familiar swells up inside her
inverts and turns her out
then doubles her
re-animalized into crying being!
Placenta delivered into clay
Bowl with (g)listening cord
Map spread on holy globe of meat
The musk deer wanders into the eucalyptus, nodding
White owl screech, top smoke hole flap blown open
Milk flow from star to cliff to breast
To wor(l)d maker
Three Parts Per Million
For Kristen Younger, on her 4oth birthday.
The moon's topography
Is similar to the left lobe of the brain
There is a ghost print on my plate
Of loves' come and gone
And today I am boning up on the Big Questions,
Throwing down shells, teeth, femurs
It is the three parts per million
Of star shit and diamond ash in them
I am betting on to light up
And give me some answers.
Empty liebfraumilch bottles and beading needles
Litter the floor around me.
Oh to raise up a power fetish
That starts the strained heart
Like a nitroglycerine pellet
Can we perpetuate the myth of heaven
For one big bang minute?
To be bequeathed a papyrus scepter-
A good roll with a body of knowledge.
This leg of the journey, all seems balled up in fire.
I crane my neck at the telescope
Is it my thumbprint on the lens
Or a milk star spiral?
The beads are breaking off a comet
One by one and crashing into Jupiter
And the owl that has been incubating
Beneath my fingers for eons blinks.
Isis blows a smudge over the moon
And stars synchronize over Malta, Stonehenge, Mexico City
I'm afraid to let fly
What if this winged one deserts me too
For a black hole at the nearest galactic core
Or rips into the first heart that screeches
And halts before it?
Tyranny and glory of the flesh-
To be a horse nearly ridden to death by the spirits
This is the dance:
The subatomic particles wave up.
The indwelling Goddess
Conducts their proliferation with a staff
And feather cuffed hands
She releases my captor:
Dark outline of self.
The lion nudges the lamb to higher ground.
Listen, the goats at the temple
Will come to no harm.
The crowd of dancers parts
On Bali, Haiti, Tobascco, Andromeda,
Or some other island galaxy.
I place my headpiece
On the glistening slab, the altar
A waterspout comes in off the ocean
And hovers above my part.
A bird of mythic proportions
Descends and cloaks me.
Now I am glowing
From the marrow out.
Ripples on the seven oceans
And the dust seas of the moon.
This black wind wing dance in the thermal layer
Is part of the pharmacopoeias
And the epoch
Of finding the way with a scepter
Of prehistoric sperm and egg
Suspended in amber clusters
And invisible scaly tails
That keep us a swish away from the past
Crack of light from the well
Dark Goddess cackle from the prompter's pit
Sometimes the heart is an embryo
In the tortoise stage.
Sometimes it comes in a silver Tibetan snuff box
Or on the half shell, smoked.
Bite the pearl to see if it is real
There is no other way.
Pour the brick tea into the churn
And add butter and salt
And a new moon is formed in a planet nursery
Though the devoted are neck deep
In the black hole of the tiger's mouth
Searching for that gorgeous mirror
Or the first mate
Of the mother craft
This is a staged race of decorated yaks
Galloping across the galaxy
You can see it reflected in Yamdrok Tso
Lake of Jade and Grassland
I rest my head on a rock
And it is full of fossils and a large geode
The turtle rustles through the grass
And it sounds like the wind.
Dream of three cobras stirring by a cave a
And a baby pushing up out of kombucha tea
Who quotes from a sacred text that it's all worthwhile
Secure your gold and silver locks with chopsticks
Light the mud oven.
Kneel and lean in with jewel yams
And prepare to greet the Buddha
You might meet him on a hairpin turn
Or when you are dangerously close to the rack
And almost turned into a celestial burial
Awaken, spared, and slowly come upright
Elongate your starry spine and dance the coals
That carbonized you last time.
The rod of the oscillator is in your hand
Crackle and spark of seven back wheels
And seven planets coming into string of pearl formation
· * * * * * *
· sleep tight nomad, with your amulet and wild eyes
the undertaker's drunk on fermented milk
and the vultures have disappeared
· into swollen clouds
HOLDING THE SOUL
I've made way for safe passage
For you through my house
If you come bearing Tibetan barley beer
I've cleared the land for agriculture too
In case you decide to stay
You kneel before a sunburst in the puddle
And make it ripple with your forehead
Clouds like feathered staffs are suspended
Above as you go souling door to door
There comes a time to take up the rope
for tug of war between light
and shady sides and the stream parts
where you say the daughter
of a lesser known universe
goes hunting for meteor remains
to warm our feet with.
Why the compulsion to collect thorns
And stash them in your breast pocket,
You want to know
Sitting by a snow leopard's pelvis
Watching the sun plough down beneath the field
You hold a loaf of bread in your hands
and it proofs with the rising stars
The landscape is dark like fish entrails.
How hard its been to outfox you
Over this scarred territory
splashed with acid
And lured with notes blowing
from the hinge of hell on an updraft.
Between two pillars at midnight
we perform an old story
before a collapsible altar
singing to the Western limb of the moon
that curves out before us
and all it's bays and oceans
We reverse the date and our clothes
to satisfy every god who likes to jest
and find simple comfort in each other
though we have wounds we still pack
and hearts that need wicking
What does it take to hold a human soul
In peace for a godly hour?
If I should die please guide mine to water
And let it reconstitute there
Like a full blown lotus
veining rain and wind.
I will not haunt you
Only take a drop of the cream
that has risen to the top
Of ours lives
And tamp it into the calyx for the journey.