As this poem began to take shape, I thought of how movies sometimes begin with a wide shot and then move gradually to a close-up. I have tried to do that here, moving from wide shot to close-up, but then drawing back again to a wide shot. I hope that this movement suggests both how the boy in the poem is part of the scene and how he may be affected by it.
a sere plain from this view from the skyblue view of pasture
and wheat small town off to the side if you will move in
to note telephone poles along paved roads dry ditches
along the dirt ones and a boy on the bridge staring at a
still object in dried weeds bent by wind and finally
you can see what he has seen for months:
coyote’s corpse flesh taken by crow
and vulture and dust-storm a bit of
fur tangle in the black-eyed susans
the body itself become a
the boy staring
at the bones as he does
with the wind hissing through dry weeds
the wind moaning over the telephone wires
every day along the road to and from school
that sits in the nearby town which is always
on the periphery of his view enclosed as it is by broad
pastures of cows and cacti blonde wheat near ready
for the combine beneath the too-blue sky in which bob-white
and crow fly over from this view the parched Kansas plain
In the late 1950’s we lived in a Southern California suburb. Families like mine were moving into areas that had been part of the Spanish empire about one hundred years before, so towns and areas had Spanish names. Different ethnicities, cultures, traditions and even religions were suddenly having to deal with each other. The kids handled the situation better than the parents, partly because romantic attraction often has no borders.
1) In the gym Mrs. Plotz played our parents’ music,
taught us to tango the Latin rhythms stirring up
tangled feet tangled feelings so we sweated
hard and laughed and avoided each other’s eyes.
2) When Mouse Morales snuck some Playboys to school
guys during passing periods saw women on glossy paper
but suspected by lunchtime they were lies they were
not like any women they had seen.
3) To dance, the guy had to leave the pack
of guys, stroll across the gym to the girls
(whisking skirts and whispering) and
ask one who might say “yes.”
4) Rosie Cardonas liked my light blue eyes,
would hold my hand in hers for sweetness. One day
she fought Gloria Garrobo between classes,
tore at her clothes her eyes scratching for blood.
5) When I asked Rachel for a slow dance we swayed
side to side and no parts touching but our hands and then