Off Lows, Weakness Remains: Meditation #3

In the PartyStore/PierOne/Target/Kohls parking lot
find a desert willow among the shopping carts,

walk around it sunwise repeating:

        I am the avant-garde, I am the avant-garde, I am the avant-garde


        DIY, DIY, DIY

Imagine a chart of median family incomes as big as the parking lot—
use it to determine where to abandon your car.

        I default, I default, I default

Your mind is a blood blister rising on your thumb, a ladybug.
Among these shopping carts, you fortress. Among plastic bags you affirm:

Lo! the light from desert trees does not speak in numbers, costs us nothing.
Here, as in a butterfly garden, everyone crawls before flight.

October 14—The Dow Closes Up 10015

I bleed a little, peyote tea waits in the refrigerator,
a Ferris Wheel rolls and rolls over the highway
after the miscarriage, we search 
for rings with missing stones, unmatched earrings
sell our gold, ride the Ferris Wheel bigger than Paris,
my parents pray for us, I play Dylan's "Spanish Boots"
over and over, the sunroof fills with stars 
like watching a film of strangers I recognize
but don't really know
Schuyler says you can't get at sunset naming colors
between the liars trees and shopping carts
we buy a house, cry in bed, leave 
the child unnamed
pink lemon pearly blue white

13 Questions for the Next Economy

On the side of the road, white cardboard in the shape of a man,
     	     illegible script. A signpost with scrawl: Will pay cash for 
              diabetes strips.
A system under the system with its black box.                    	Disability hearing?
a billboard reads. Trouble with Social Security? Where does the riot begin?
Spark of dry grass, Russian thistle in flames, or butterflies bobbing
as if pulled by unseen strings            	  through the alleyway.
My mother’s riot would have been peace. A bicycle wheel
              chained to a concrete planter. What metaphor
              can I use to describe the children sleeping in cages in 
centers? Birds pushed fenceward by a breeze? A train of brake lights
extending? Mesquite pods mill under our feet
on a rainless sidewalk. What revolution            will my daughter feed?
A break-the-state twig-quick snap or a long divining       	    as if
for water? A cotton silence? A death?          	      Who will read this
in the next economy, the one that comes after the one that kills us?
What lessons will we take from the side of the road? A wooden crucifix,
a white bicycle, a pinwheel, a poem
waiting to be redacted:                         Which would you cross out?

Excerpt from "Defacing the Monument"

The words “economic,” “family,” and “asylum” remain unspoken as I sit in the back of the courtroom scribbling on a legal pad, trying to structure a context and trace my relation to the seven men who stand before the judge shackled at the wrists, waists, and ankles.

Reader, can you improvise your relation to the phrase “illegal entry,” to the large seal of US District Court, District of Arizona, that hangs above the judge, eagle suspended with talons and arrows pointing?

Perhaps your relation stretches like a wall, bends like footprints towards a road, perhaps your relation spindles and barbs, chollas or ocotillos, twists like a razor wire on top of a fence.

Perhaps you do not improvise, perhaps you shackle, you type, you translate, you prosecute, you daily wage, your mouth goes dry when you speak—paper, palimpsests of silence, palimpsests of complicity and connection never made evident on the page.

Write down everything you need. How long is the list?
Sleep with it beneath your head, eat it, wear it.
Can you use it to make a little shade from an unrelenting gaze?

Speak into the court record the amount of profit extracted from such men as those before the judge shackled at the wrists, waists, and ankles not limited to the amount of profit that will be extracted from such bodies through the payments that will be made per prisoner per day to the Corrections Corporation of America and GEO Group, but also inclusive of all the profits generated by trade agreements that makes labor in the so-called developing countries so cheap.

Best of luck to you, the judge says.

Que le vaya bien, the lawyers say as the men begin their slow procession out of the courtroom in chains.

And in that moment, from the back of the courtroom, we can decide to accept or forget what we have seen, to bear it, or to change it

because we love it, we want it, we don’t care enough to stop it, we hate it,

we can’t imagine how to stop it, we can’t imagine it, we can’t imagine.

Related Poems

for yam sir: elevated blues

This poem is from a longer work, written in dedication to Abraham Smith's canine companion, Rodney.

probably the heat in the bama walMART parkin lot 
curls the edges of the masking taped penciled on 
a half crapped crate baby RODNEY stretchy snow legs 
and sweet potato continent blotches down 
his back LOST aka abandoned 
as the hoarder's drawers of one rub off 'em 
or three hotel motel soaps quiet lost sweeeeet  
consonance that he was what i am saying 
abused 	a u e less	not sure if the colorless dust 
of town on a town BOOT or iff red clay heavy cough 
on the wheel wells of a grrr TRUCK man 
fat he does not love maybe asleep 
when he goes WahOOF it's a buffet style he's 
in the aisles snake-biting every gristle yawner high on Dew
very un-berry slapper of the back of a kid's head i know at WALfart  
he would drop every awful eater of a kid's toy dream if he COULD 
nice though this snow grandma
she's old but she does not complain 
in her head she's young she's agreed 
to blow up the birthday balloons in this pic 
rodney is balloon being lung prized  
by new old grandma snow who has seen it all but has grace not class lives 
days in a day ooh surprised and weeeeeeeee 
WE agree he's cloud weave with winter brush brown 
with that sense of sweet rush and sweet sleep  
happy yes dropping pumpkins on the seine maybe 
any river nothing ever HURT or broken again 
YAM is irked by hawks so vanilla tapioca plus yam equals HAWKS no no? 
like little spat wrecked broke ladders up there on sky 
he does that liberator quIxote  
of that hawk squid on high 	angel net sounder?
protector of the fair soft prawn field mouse  
or say purgatory worrier warrior I just know THEY never 
not even into the punky pines skate or sink 
when HE is bounding 
hey he's ablution quencher he's piggy WALmm biterrr
mr presh mr ipod rod mr rodeo 
mr yam man mr roodle strudel mr dip 
thee in the pond and try and drink 
while you swim 	cack cack 	hey he's 
coughing he got a little pond in 
his lung he's fine yam yond spondee lap sun 
yeep yeep and woof woo whoa uhoh buzzard you too 
best go tilt tilt over some other open country 
and CAME 	THE 	tornado like a thumbprint 
of a nobody dream of weird wolf water 
water left laying in a U of a pipe how it'll 
weird fast with fasted black grey 	and CAME The tornado 
bad water thumbprint checking the melon's coats 
to this revolving numberless anti-perfume keen 
windows bursted SEEDS of glass if you went to planting pane crap  
how many lost pet grow out of that fire ant dirt
how many wind thrown collars jingle 
in the pines like the bone in bum coin  
he's a bathtub fellar in thunder he's a nervous 
mervis in a storm he's an under bed hider 
he's learning today to gradual 
gradually graduate back out light from under bed 
tho every dog does need a den
some close space to do the deepest dreaming in 
maybe his grandpapa was a hammock full of the farthest thing from schemes  
maybe the cloudy brushy two he lunged from 
wore a bed shape maybe the beds up there in high light 
never did squeak maybe if they did peep spring cry out it was the peat 
of a pert chipmunk hiving in a dust hole 
or a bluecoat angel squirrel roD will adjust 
your back for you tugging the leash 
in shocked joy atonal squeal astonish   
as the newness of a smaller runner brings him back 
to wonderful 		here's a happy  	to run 
towards not away	is to smile 
of brush and of snow here's round blotty pine 
he's turned his cinnamon back on 
so you know don't we? on
every sappy sticky limb 
sinks a hawk 
mouse beak unmoused 
and i quote 	damn yam cop grrr the hawk collective  
leaving a little purple grr burp out into the light
the walmarts turn toadstools toads are dining on 
with a lobster bib eructated of toadstools 
oho they are eating themselves  
oho the sky for once uncast in wing  
love you Roodle let's go tin-
tern that abbey walk it 
reel 	rite 	ripe 	rise   rolling 	'gain

Abraham Smith's dog, Rodney
Abraham Smith's dog, Rodney