On the 80th anniversary of his death, I write another poem about Uncle Al
July 17th, 1943 Spontaneous as the fly after the Garden spinning up from a trail of spoiled meat, the Earth’s first map, spanning from gate and sentry-swords, their ambling flames, into a middle-distance like an aftermath, newly minted. Yesterday reminded itself that one year, years ago, the Bomb became a gap in the door spilling light like vines loosed from the Garden, but not the Garden, rather an iteration, a mutation in the continuum of Gardens. More like a sphere of eyes trailing trick ropes trapped in the gaze of a high speed camera, all up in flames, all up in flames, all loosed into the world in waves and tangents and particles and piercing strains. A rhizomatic sprawl, upheaval coiled like wisteria, scratched cuneiform spelling out the murder of the Heavenly Ox. Lo! The fire atlas courses like years over our bodies. Two years and one day before the test, you dipped yourself in the river. The mystic form is contradictory and circular: eye, coil, crater, drowning.
Aubade for Unkind Ridges
A landscape is taken in increments shadows mat distance to mountains like sopping fur there could be bodies in those hills for all we know massacres wide as mines deveined land unrecognizable but for thorny history buttes like afterthoughts calderas like the children we’ll never have parched arroyos named for the long-dead anglo ranchers senile State Reps pidgin Spanish element indivisible from invasive species shadow of a common raven careens long-decayed coyote transects reverberates the chaparral with lullabies written for fear by flies dirt prowling with scars at sunrise bruises pool over each mile subcutaneous echoes carrion footfalls last breaths freshly winged *** the drowned mouse devolving in our water jug a decline perfectly preserved just for our gawking the horizon the mouse’s slim fingers mottled with air bubbles bursting across elbow shoulder jaw dwindle and slouch toward myopic backdrop as imperceptible as wishing how can we reconcile the spout’s iris not so much raging but fading into molecular reticence we recede into Chisos dirt like lapped water what we carried here we brought to drown cactus spines stones small as indifference as heavy this sunrise a capsule for our silent veneration of graceless endings *** trace is buried everywhere our incessant desires drum along fingerbones. to foreign bones far-off hills scabbed unnavigable craving blisters’ roots pining for the rabbit transforming into bitumen and steam our nostalgia like a dog’s tooth half-rotten in gums the stains this land hoards in unseen numbers its marvels our terrors trace the contours of a rotting giant whose sunken chest our flattened soles stow each harbored hunger knock for false ribs we stumble across sinkholes sweet things will do anything for silence a landscape takes in increments.
Lizards and ants cordon salt from blood yellow, scarlet, opal. The burnt out axel maps a continent in char, a starling makes a nest in a fledgling’s head, our yearning plagues bedrock. Today, clear cut of the lechuguilla’s palling scent, is all vacancy. We listen as songbirds plummet.
— C. Rees (he/they) is a poet and writer from southeastern Pennsylvania living in Austin, TX, and can be found on Instagram @17_yrbrood. They hold an MFA from the New Writers Project at the University of Texas. His work has appeared in Frontier Poetry, Bat City Review, The Shore Poetry, Territory, the Action Books Blog, and elsewhere.