It’s not the wind I hear driving south through the Catskills—it’s just bad news from the radio and then a hailstorm morphs into sunlight —look up and there’s— an archipelago of starlings trailing some clouds— But how does the wind come through you primordial hollow—unflattened double reed— so even now when bad news comes with the evening report— I can press a button on the dashboard and hear your breath implode the way wind blows through the slit windows of a church in Dilijan, then a space in my head fills with a sound that rises from red clay dust roads and slides through your raspy apricot wood— Hiss of tires, wet tarmac, stray white lines night coming like wet dissolve to pixilation— Praise to the glottal stop of every hoarse whisper, every sodden tree which speaks through your hollow carved wood— so we can hear the air flow over starlings rising and dipping as the mountains glaze the sun— so we can hear the bad news kiss the wind through your whetted reed—
words appeared as the soft purring of a cat, crow screeching,
end of a hymn, cicadas in trees—spilling in the white
noise of my head—Da Nang Mekong Saigon Nam.
I walked suburban streets to school, hi-fi blasting Somebody To Love,
coach meting out orders, my playbook of fakes and jives,
my head swelling in the helmet. Over sweet cocktails with my beloved
under the yellowing gingkoes of 64th off Lex, for a moment I felt
grown up and then the air in my head was orange chemical Dow
and DuPont, the juke box blasting Light My Fire—and where were we?
staring at the image: pistol to the head, a boy I once knew
on the white-lined field was bagged
and flown back in the dioxin haze of morning.
In the mangrove of my head chopping sounds
under the covers, rice patties—floating mirrors with unidentified
objects. There were Catholics in Saigon and Catholics on my street,
what about Laos? what about Cambodia?
American questions spilling in sunlight on white
shutters, and I’m home on plush carpet waiting for a number.