Grew up with patches on the knees of my pants
where workers worked to put food on the table
where life was planned out with nothing left to chance
where heaven rose up out of the hard scrabble.
Mixed with a big spoon and bastardized were
flesh and fabric, skin and fashion
what everybody said was truer than true
chaos was order with no distractions.
Here lived the cousins of coincidence
down the street from the uncles of conformity
incest was the rule that was never spoken of
and democracy somehow with no diversity.
The poet only repeated what was buried in the head
a deep gorge ago in the land of nowhere
between the empires before and after splendid
warriors in tin guarded the thin arid air.
Not that long ago we were brandishing spears
tracking down commies and unionists
not that long before that we kept slaves
and wouldn’t let women out of the kitchen.
Not that long ago my friends and I
buried the sun in the sand at the beach
lit fires and debated whether to try to
raise the devil and rattle his cage.
As a response to history both modern
and old and out of reach as a crawled-in cave
I drove into the wilderness where four borders
disappeared into each other with a flashlight.
On my belly recalling the way by hand
and foot and knee, by shoulder and trusting
having been one of the scrapers and painters
of this panorama I fell breathlessly into
the opening in the belly the broken belly
of secret friendly rock opened up to us
I laid there on dust, feathers and bones
presented again with radiant panorama.
The moon figure suggests to the hand figure
that the backbone and leg of every hunted creature
swallows up arrow and harp figures carrying
song from darkest heaven into flowering fire.
Upon my going in history was endless
upon coming out history winds its way
in semi-spirals of barely raised epidermis
my unique signature of years and days.
Will I stand or sit or speak up at evil?
Will money clutch at my palm or let go?
Will earth’s little children fear or giggle
at my history as I let it show?