Aught, no. 13 (2004)

Crag Hill

4 of Spades

The thing that helped me the most, though, was the time I could

the spirit of harsh reality
guns in circulation, guns in possession, a rash of gunfire

We had to go to Missoula and descend
like perfect crow retellings. We were stuffed in
sand, proud of anybody who was a summer lost

Label didn’t muck a bag hinge over it, but I didn’t
honk, saw the rally that culled him. I sit with him
and chew and loosen for a whole as he balked a tight
name. Then I husked him about the teller

He was sitting in the shadow of death. We were
all sitting in the shadow of death. I wondered what
he was thinking about. Maybe he was thinking about
his girl. I even hoped he was thinking about her.
   We heard the chopper. It came in from behind

It’s next. It’s past. It’s over two hundred years ago.
He didn’t wash the blood from his face, nor rinse
it from his clothes, as his children witnessed. “Will
you now, when you are needed most, stop at words?”
How can she smile at a future she does not know?
“What the hell you going to do with freedom?”

‘He was generally really
well liked, so is he a murderer
or is he a good guy? He’s prob-
ably all of those things,’
Tippett said. ‘But I think it’s
really important to figure out
what happened in those last days’


9 of Spades

It just is deteriorating so much more rapidly than I expected

“You’re the last bard,” Ebbie said phonily, his recitation
corrupting like a creek imploding from a battle after you seek it

was loose, dangling on his shirt, he yanked it off.
He looked up at the advertising placards above
the windows, wanting to turn his thoughts away

          Things tuck motion, flicker or sound, an
unheroic tradition — it’s all to be to have been.
          In usurpation, advancing by degrees, past and
future create an equality

Hell, he was on the edge of panic. The ritual had
been going on for a week now and it would con-
tinue until the cue was heard no more. In the
meantime, the class would suddenly erupt into a
confusion of waving arms and jogging legs

not the infirm affirmation
a nation on the mat
knees or shoulder blades
there’s no turning over a new leaf
our resounding conundrum
our aches layer

Try as he might, Villa cannot sustain the contempt he customarily
shows gringos. He simply envies even the worst of the Hollywood
nitwits too much: their literacy, their technology, their freedom.
Before the arrival of Thayer and his crew, in fact, Villa has
already taken on an American named Sam Drebben as an inter-
preter and gunner. Drebben (Alan Arkin) is a cynical all-purpose
rebel, the kind of peripatetic fighter who could find an entrée into the proposed revolution


Ace of Spades

Past the censor? Past the night hands?

We left the esoteric stuff behind and talk about real
things like where roads should be built or shouldn’t be built

When it’s over it’s over
Cloud crossing moon, half-clear sky,
then candle-sputter, shadow-crawl

The Patriot Act, passed without a blink, is now
under attack from the left and right, one
thing both agree upon: individualism is the penultimate
act of patriotism. My country ends at my front door

‘Human beings have no
right to tell other human beings
how long they have to live
unless they have some kind of
firearm in their hands,’ he said

majority of that early,
thick carbon dioxide
atmosphere has been
subsequently locked up
in the carbonate rocks,
which are everywhere

Until now the leftovers on
this pivotal battlefield have been
small — spent cartridges, the
occasional skull. But as months
of drought have drained the
Danube to its lowest level in a
century, larger relics are coming

Copyright 2004, by the author. All rights reserved.
Return to Aught, no. 13 contents