We sit in the dark and play a story game
each imagining a part, one after another,
winding a thread with strands of images
trying to tell a common story.
This is a story of playing a game fifty years ago
with a cabal of Berkeley poets in a Boston apartment
at the edge of changes then, they are ghosts now,
invoking a fox to carry the spirits and they began:
Seen from the canyon ridge
a White House on the cliff face,
it’s way down, clinging as if by magic glue
holding beings on the flat rock face.
Living inaccessible, safe , pure
they live in that white dot, where
silences fill the canyon depth.
Degeneration is slow in the dry air,
Hawks monitor small changes
old angels fall slowly.
Feathers, the touch of divinity,
shards on the floor
peyote scent lingers
stings the timid heart
pregnant girls bless the land.
The story shifts to a new voice
Let us light a candle now.
close the white curtain
cut the presence of city canyons
obscure us. cast a film over
the sirens of incessant motion.
How can stories be told now?
narratives cannot stitch threads
into random actions, into chaos.
The new politics light the candles.
A serious poet declares
atomic electronic degeneration
is the narrative of the future,
sex in a closet is ripe bananas,
as a mouse mounts another and squeaks.
And why not, he continues
follow this tale as any other,
as good as meditation
on clean laundry hanging in the aspen trees
clustered in the canyon below the White House.
as she left the white horse by the river.
Light another candle, for another poet says
the hooves of cavalry beat the water
they left white bones below the White House
ending a narrative, to start another
of america the brave the white,
to arrive here, where we see
The violence of flaming angels
and blue flickering light behind curtains
of separation, the era ends on TV,
of many eras passing.
Light the fourth candle.
The new stories are simple
we grow up watching stories
trying to find one to fall into,
We go everywhere watching
until we fall out of the tale
into a new one, new homes
occupations marriages loves
until the decades declare a limit
and close down on us.
We’re between stories, the myths
miss, guide us not, the fox
controls and destroys
our illusions. The paths
to the White House erode.
You can’t get there now
from the amphibious ducks
coming up river, up the canyon
between the soft pink walls
laced with dark lines of falling water.
The people are still there with small corrals,
gardens by ocher adobe houses
and their horses are white and brown.
You can’t pretend to be an Indian any more,
the age is over, the blue jackets,
the Winchesters and sabers and disease
are gone leaving the survivors
who simply watch you.
The light loveliness of pueblos
of children in the plaza chasing turkeys
beneath the Kivas.
Living in our canyons of electricity
we light the last candle and look
for a narrative to feel good about
expect now some illuminating magic.
But we looked stupidly at the stone bowls
at the grinding stone, the round ovens.
heard cries of delight, and saw
the toothless smiles of the old,
but fail to understand their story
while the fox steals meaning away.