Town & Country Life

Eternity Blues

I just had the old Dodge in the shop
with that same damned front-end problem,
and I was out, so to speak, for a test run,

loafing along, maybe 35 m. p. h.,
down the old Corvallis road,
holding her out of the ruts and potholes.

That’ s out in Montana, the Bitterroot Valley.
Long ways from home is how they say it.
Long ways from home, boys, long long ways from home.

News Headlines From The Homer Noble Farm


That case-hardened cop.
A bull moose in a boghole
brought him to a stop.


From his grassy knoll
he has you in his crosshairs,
the accomplice mole.


The sword once a share.
This forest a fresh-faced farm.
This stone once a stair.


The birch crooks her arm,
as if somewhat more inclined
to welcome the swarm.


He has, you will find,
two modes only, the chipmunk:
fast-forward; rewind.


Enter a Cloud


Gently disintegrate me
Said nothing at all.

Is there still time to say
Said I myself lying
In a bower of bramble
Into which I have fallen.

Look through my eyes up
At blue with not anything
We could have ever arranged
Slowly taking place.

Above the spires of the fox
Gloves and above the bracken
Tops with their young heads
Recognising the wind,
The armies of the empty
Blue press me further
Into Zennor Hill.


In through our bedroom window, the full dawn-scape concusses.
Difficult to sustain sleep's equilibrium of wordlessness.
Naming anything, like stepping barefoot in wet sand up to my ankles.
Name after name, sinking me farther beneath waking's buoyancy.

House, this morning, is pale with the rush of what night siphoned off.
Objects, still emptied of resemblance, hum their chord-less cantos.
Bloodless, my knuckles knock on walls without echo, testing singularities.

Taklamakan Desert

Why I’ m going to the Taklamakan Desert:
the emptiness there.

Why I’ m going to the Taklamakan Desert
at seventy-five, leaving all words behind: the cry
of the emptiness there.

Why I’ m going to the Taklamakan Desert:
I can no longer stand
the world’ s greed
or mine.

There, in the Taklamakan Desert,
the silence of a thousand-year-old skull.

Translated from the Korean

Over the Heath

The truck grinds by
and pumps out grit;
the road glints and
goes still.

The barn owl that
had not finished here
returns. But with
its fill

of scavenges,
face ruffled in mulch,
the vole is lost
and safe

so the silent specter
flits away, its
moon face to
the moon

and rears unknown
against a copse,
claws tipped for
the strafe

and something dies
too soon.

He filled her between
the hay bales in
that Dutch barn, now

The Second Person

Afternoon burns everything off Franklin Street.
Even the birds, even the flies.

Or iced-tea sugar and chicken grease weigh everyone
into a doze, all indoors, in a cool

they said would never come eighty years ago
when this was still the center of business

and the civilized left these high hours to the dogs,
ice in a highball, and let each house

The Duck Shit at Clarion Creek

We liked to stick it in a bb gun and shoot it.
We tattooed with it. We said hallelujah,
the poor man’ s tanning lotion.
Then the frack wells began, something black
capping the water and we got high
watching a green-backed heron die.
We got funny at Clarion, flung
each other’ s underwear into the trees.
Why was it we got naked there
and nowhere else? Maybe we knew
we were getting good and ugly, rusted inside
as the trucks we rode into the water.
Maybe we knew we only appeared