Some say we was touched, not by angels
or worms, or holy living things, but by
troubles of this world that follow a man
all the way down into the last hole he’ll
never dig himself out of. That’s the way
it was, the black and white of it, the penny
candy of it, the two day old bread of it.
So we kept moving, across states that
held their nose for having us, passing
as quickly as a setting sun would let us.
There were river bars with banks no foot
or snake dare linger too long on, rocks
with faces of dead Indians etched by the
breaking of rain and wind against the
indestructible. From winding vistas we
saw the expanse of fruit trees dissolving
in coastal mist, crops laid out like herring-
bone binding the wounds of something
that might never heal, something that
looked to bleed itself forever over.
There was crosses sticking up and out
of the ground, scattered in rows, sorta,
some straight as lightning rods, some
crooked as the Devil’s tail leaning nine
ways towards Gehenna
, names carved
in the halfbeams, two dates separated
by a short dash between, the lingering
scent of a silence that wouldn’t budge
before an onslaught of morning larks.
That’s when I heard it, like a muffled
harmonica coming up from the soil,
a tinny reeding like lips across a waxed
comb, faint at first, then steady and
sweet almost. But there weren’t no one
there, no one above ground, that is, so
I walked among that field of mounds
and something like a sadness come over,
a sure slow sorrow better kept in a shut
box, maybe, hid under something heavy
and old, something like lonesomeness.