Monday, January 29, 2007

I becomes we except after me

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My Second Arrogance

Neither lonely nor confused, I know the meaning
of this small plant. It offers meek shoots in the face
of a star that would scour the very life from it,
yet it does so, nonetheless. It does not know that
that which feeds it would destroy it. It does not
know that that which seeds it, in turn needs it.

Like a small plant, we root ourselves in hunkered
misbelief that we might someday become an oak,
a bristlecone, a grand edifice of majesty in some
unseen acre of lost forest. And like a small plant
born to a forge fueled by mystery and synthesis,
we seek the terrible sun in spite of ourselves.

The first arrogance is believing one has attained
the treetops for having sprouted. The second, is
knowing this to be utterly true. Grow something
that is not you and tell me different, mother.

Joseph Gallo
January 29, 2007

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Friday, January 19, 2007

Sage adages of the skyfather

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Laughing Feather
For JoAnn on her birthday

There was the sudden squall in Seligman, a plague of flies as we tried to eat lunch from a cooler heavy with summer ice, the gnarled gust out of nowhere that blew us into that small mineral shop where a toothless smile gladly showed us charred meteorites that had traveled distances farther than we’d come to see them strewn on dusty sills as he added yet another butt to a stub-laden cistern made to sift gold from fool’s earth, but instead mined precious minutes from the failing lode of his lungs. There was that first night at Sunset Crater when August drizzle fell like cinder, laval and ashen between far-off flashes that torched the tent with brief streaks of flint as we huddled together for the first time.

There were the ruins at Wupatki, the anvil heat branding silence into red flagstone where high portals once beckoned wind to brush across black Sinaqua hair that went ungathered as moonless corn swelling in monsoon. There was the road of broken rain as we passed chapter houses and trinket stands whose burmashave signs pleaded for us to turn around, that Nice Indians Behind You would stoically sell rubber tomahawks, suction-cup arrows, and lapis Kokopellis in the name of the venerable Chief Snakehorse.

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There was modern poverty on the Navajo rez, coiled hissing threaded through the ribs of the Cow Springs Trading Post bleached skeletal by graffiti and neglect; the same madwoman driver I encountered two years before on the road near Elephant Feet. There was our deliberate passing amid the measured shuffle of noble lineage at the supermarket in Kayenta, where the high-boned faces were all oval and sunwashed as olives in Assisi.

There was the honed Agathla chiseling cobalt in a marbled sky; Three Sisters and the thunderswift mesas of Monument Valley where darkness quarried onyx before our headlamps carved the way out as we shaped legends of Bear Woman and Coyote Boy, the sage adages of the ineffable Skyfather as told to an accidental guide who first whispered your true spirit name of Laughing Feather. There was Mesa Verde whose fluted palaces echoed from sheer cliffsides; the ricochet of forked fire in Pagosa Springs shattering saberhorn above our leaking tent, the ground trembling as terrible buffalo passed low overhead. In the Acoma, there were kiva ladders set at starry angles that could never carry out all the dead yet alive within the pale walls of the blood-borne chapel in Sky City.

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And there was more, too much more to spill all here: a lone cloud hovering above a shadow-saddled mountain; the buckshot road sign with a one-armed Apache mounted on a rusty palomino; dust-deviled furytails circling cankered saguaro; a shivering porcupine treed in a glazed knot of sundown copper; crown-point elk grazing along the road to Chama. Where go the voices we have spoken with, the sagas invented and forgotten, ferried off by a wing of brevity too burdensome for birds and their kind? There is only the moment and the moment endures in spite of what history would have us believe. There is all this then, this and us in the midst of all this; travelers returning and travelers continuing, wanderers led by rings slipped through the nose of a fancy; moving as if time were nothing more than a luxurious plumage, the golden bellow of a laughing feather.

Joseph Gallo
January 19, 2007

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Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Toward imaginary midnight

Eleven Fifty-Five

They moved the clock today,
the terrible hands of metaphor

inching toward imaginary
midnight when the world

will not go dark, but instead
flash candling in critical mass

and everyone witness unto the end
of their eyes, enlightenment blooming

like hooped skirts of muscaria, smoke
suffusing the flameborne horizon

as blessed matter descends
like cold wisdom in heavy water.

They moved the clock today. Forward,
with five minutes remaining until

the last question ascends
perfectly unanswered.

Joseph Gallo
January 17, 2007

Sunday, January 07, 2007

No time for talk


For the muscle that pulled the oar,
for the hand that wrung the cloth.
For the eye that scanned the river,
for the night that took the moth.
For the mother who bore the child,
for the father who hunted for home.
For the daughter who learned patience,
for the son who yearned to roam.
For the youth that squandered hours,
for the sage who breathes in slow.
For the mysteries that so remain,
for the things we think we know.


No time for talk

For the girl who washed her body,
for the thief who lost his gold.
For the face that never furrowed,
For the moon that passed in cold.
For the dead along the banks,
for the scatter petaled water.
For the keepers of long kisses,
for the lamb reprieved from slaughter.
For the reasons never uttered,
for the mornings never held.
For the glaciers slowly slipping,
for the trees that stand unfelled.


No time for talk

For the smoke that takes the flesh,
for the fire that cleans and blesses.
For the love that holds the family,
for the darning of new dresses.
For the stairs that rise to greet us,
for the dungeon’s deep despair.
For the mountain made of cell bars,
for the snow and sullen air.
For the Earth that hurtles sunward,
for the sea that floods to ebb.
For the delicate decisions,
for the dew-borne spider’s web.


No time for talk

Joseph Gallo
January 7, 2007