A dusty piece of paper at the bottom of boxes
that rattled down the highway with me
from one place to the next
as I moved East,
said “Mineral Lease,
Lincoln County Oklahoma.”
Wasn’t worth one red hard earth cent,
but let me keep title I suppose
to the stories of families coming through
our ranch in Colorado,
A lease on my mother’s telling
what she saw of the Grapes of Wrath.
A claim too maybe on what lay below the topsoil
that blew away like the people –
what can’t be moved, but only extracted
like gold from the teeth of uncles
and left behind.
I made up tales my grandfather
won it in a poker game,
or took it as payment for a meal
at the back door,
but its origin as dark without genesis
as the sky
to the people of New York City
when it dimmed on Black Sunday,
in the Dust Bowl of ’35,
sky the color of deeds
done in wind
For Miz Quickly
If a friend insists TGIF, but the
near-beer, half-hearted/half-empty glass of your week
breaks in your hand so that you cut your finger with worry,
you mix a Bloody-Alice, because when life hands you blood oranges
you make Band-Aid, which
instead of raising a toast to wrap
the incredible bullshit you go on about,
Alice said “DRINK ME”, like in the story, and she
drank with you in the bar then drank with you back at your place
drank herself until squinting you looked like her wonderland, her velveteen rabbit, you want to ask her “are you my mother?” because its Go Dog Go, all now another story entirely
where you wake tomorrow with capillaries
that are toffee-sticky, a
headache gooey as cherry pie,
you didn’t listen to your friends
who warned you about the poison.
For Miz Quickly
Life ain’t no picnic
’cause when I open the basket
I get a head cheese sandwich
which is body parts, right?
In aspic, like the gelatin
of love, holding it all together.
Ain’t a bowl of cherries either,
aren’t the pits toxic? Dog got sick
last time she got into a bunch.
More like life is a bowl of crabapples
and those make her sick too.
If life is a journey, I’m amazed.
If it’s a game, my bones feel like
at-bats, and my ribs are scored.
If life is change,
someone stole my lunch money!
If life is a gift,
are we all supposed to
live in the present?
Tossing a salad for Miz Quickly’s Labor Day Picnic
It was tragedy
Of no use to anyone
My father would go
To the jail and speak
alone with murderers
His was divination
Of the cards –
Insane or not insane
Those who saw faces
The fate of each
And every one
The same – to hang
For Miz Quickly’s Visual