Tag at Pullman National Monument

Roger Reeves

 

The market is made of fire so nothing
Stands, or stands—even in the ideal
City of Pullman, I hear “nigga run,”
One child shouting to another in ruins,
Of ruin and so call out in paradise
To the live bloody skeleton hung softly
As summer in each other to escape
This year’s killing season, the pilgrimage
To flame and morgue and news and dust, local
Honey sold nationally, the market
Always-already wet with this black fame.
In an alley beyond their beware and boy-
Barking, a painting of a Maasai warrior
Lifting himself out of the frame with a leap,
His spear, nothing like fire but a fire
The leaping, the leaving of the coffin-
Pull of earth, his red garment about him
In clasped silence for which we understand
That we will not understand and so stare
At something else trying to escape
Paradise. Beauty has always belonged
To whomever could afford it. None of us
Can afford what we pay for beauty, but
We labor, we labor, our white rag wet
With formaldehyde, our knees deep in shag
Carpet pressing a stain as commanded
By a mastering manual kept in a slim slash
Pocket, our white charges sleeping their way
Across cud-chewing to Chicago
Dreaming of a man they watched burn this tree-side
Of heaven. “Run nigga,” the boys yell
As if hocking oranges in a burning market,
As if what they flee is not each other.

More by Roger Reeves

Related Poems

Devotee

for the wisdom of the Rocky Mountain National Park

what to call wild use
of nature
to the human
where character
is centered
entering like a devotee,
genuflecting, vast space
what to call drama
of containment edging
unknown? tundra’s
tenacious
front to the stars,
above all tree-lines
can you breathe?
what is your risk,
anthropoid?
to lichen, moss imbricating
delicate plants hundreds
years
in the making
shivery!  sweetest
tiny world
what’s next,
where is our ark?
all directions of space
glance across moraines
near and far to plunge
or fly?
gambol like a shaman with
mountain denizens
a raw and windblown
dance
of preservation,
let no one break or tread
rigor you barely understand,
o human rangers
guardians as keepers of
land’s vision
inside trembling
precarious
Anthropocene
make wonder, not wreck
things you barely
know of this world
bow down to
dark power’s
indigenous alchemy
wild basin
when I could see death
inside the camp’s firelight
night we sat vigil for our sick friend
in coma and
sun was strong by day
and later ice was blinding
(he lived a little longer)

ecology of mind!
“to preserve this
element of unknown places”
(Aldo Leopold)
when it was never summer
when it was timeless
Rocky spine cut a divide
touched a nerve
confluence of lines,
east & west
held a universe
let us in
Blake’s garden of love
and see what you
never have seen
marked out by the magus
trickster shaman
playing in
zone of the bighorn
there is an elk in your future
if you wait
there is a black bear in your future
if you let him live
beyond Illusion
of the poetic
not made in your image
for your pleasure
yet they are sublime
(beneath a surface
cities of discontent
go down)
walk climb stop stare
rake
mind’s neurons flashing
you stumble
you gaze
you touch inside loneliness
at 11,000  feet
moose and elk
in continuity
below
mirroring illuminating
a beautiful
desolation
outburst sounding
rut and passion
a circuitous present
where you
pick up
a shard of shell
back up
on the tundra
evidence of
once was ocean
wisdom
dakinis,
lokapalas, imps
mountain deities
nod and
bow, o gratitude!
without this
care
we lose our way
kill the thing we need, we love
you better know.



Aldo Leopold (1887-1948): American philosopher and ecologist,
best known for his book Sand Country Almanac.

dakinis:  female embodiments of enlightened energy

lokapalas: dieties of place