Corralled overnight,
the herd of mustangs
steamed under the moon,
its whiteness a part
of their motion and form,
a sea of backs
rolling in a landlocked harbor.
Killdeer made noises
in the mesquite,
wind played with their throats,
and hot blood sang beneath feathers.
Wild in the stream, wild
where mountain water parted
the grass thick as hair,
trout nuzzled grey rock
for snails, muscle in horn;
the delicate crunch underwater
drove crayfish backward to lodge
in low cracks under scree.

A man in a bottle of kill-devil
glowed like a firefly in water,
suffused with the night
and its lullaby sky,
braiding some weeds for a lariat
to bring down the moon.
Wet smell of dung
called back farmyards with calico girls
crossing barefoot to stables,
waking the hired hands
to coffee and dawn cigarettes;
he settled in sand, grinding
his years into something
to put his hands on,
something to circle with himself,
something to see, an irritation
to lacquer over.

Coyote wind.

Beetle hum.

Sidewinder scrawl.


Garden of beans and peppers for chili
is open to sun all day.
Clay soil and manure decay
with a heat that trembles
over tendrils and root hairs.
Heat of the earth
and heat of the sun come together,
a regeneration.
A scarecrow blows
like a husk pegged to earth,
cloth on a cross
here to flutter man’s message
to birds and whoever will listen:

Thin to the sun,
thin to the sandstorm,
thin to the sudden black rain
and the August hailstones,
its threads open up and unravel
their way back to dust.

Under the stars for their counting,
sunk in the earth
for a labor to try and be whipped by,
it is aged in a season too short.

To have choice in the matter,
to ring in descending
or drop with a clunk,
to shine like a broken-glass spark
or be dully obscured,
it comes without harbinger
unless small things matter:
an unfolding bud,
the shape of a pebble,
a touch between woman and man.


In back of the shanty
a whirlwind grows
from the torque of the potter’s wheel;
circles connect earth and sky.
Taking heat from the woman’s fingers,
clay winds upward into a bowl
to carry lilies through winters ahead.
Nearly sentient, it relies on her hands
and her vision, pliant
to each subtle convex of knuckle
and concave of palm.
Stick-ends of her hair
scratch the bowl’s surface
in vagaries of line, organic patterns.

She will set it to bake
like a lizard’s back
on the sandstone outcropping
she sees as a hand,
and let it confront the sun overhead
as circle to circle.