by Avram Kline
Just before the quake, a Khampa beauty dropped a hair band and a man reached for it. She'd have ignored it, hair bands being what they are, but there he was, holding it. He could see some hairs had formed a clot. I guess that's normal, he thought, stray hairs fighting for life like that. Being so near a woman with her finery thrilled him, for among his mates he was marginal. He played the idiophone, and like most herders, preferred the older sutras. He kept a journal where he penned the line: Picking things up for women keeps me motivated. Some thirteen hundred years later, Belinda Carlisle would describe seven types of femininity, starting with the dropping of trifles. Many men would oblige, and she'd validate their work with thank you cards. Something 'bout you right here beside me touches the touched part of me. One fellow would come from corporate. Awed by the gold in her eyes, he returned to her the hair band, though she didn't want it.
we convey purses to the apache
because that fellow back in yuma,
the one with the levis shop, said
take this big box to the apache,
got clothes & equipment in it,
put it in that hearse of yours &
do not open it unless some cop
pulls you over for going too fast,
which happens at roosevelt near
ann's bakery near ann behind
that bread counter, ann going on
re martin luther king sales
at walmart, saying stuff's on sale
on account of martin luther king
to geronimo, who handles a brioche
& ponders a martin luther discount
on sterno, saying something re
querechos needing to settle down,
saying when coronado came out
his tent to ask who they were
(they were eating walnuts)
he was frustrated, having searched
the harahey—all naked with things
on their heads & that copper bell
they got—having found nothing
but a copper bell, that bush
hacking conquistador still
smelling some gold somewhere,
conceding in the private
of his book a goodness re
the thatching, the fields of plum
& mulberry, & now these querechos
roaming the plain with buffalo?
curse these eyes, wrote he, curse
this horse, curse this eye of this horse
& that eye too & back & forth went
he between querechos & harahey
until he summoned the lord & the
harahey obliged & two hundred men
in coyote skins brought the lord unto
him & when he, coronado, from atop
his tall white ungulate, muttered
something re the love of saint john,
three talons fell upon the helmets
wounding the ungulates &, as we
say, when an enemy comes in
like a flood, the spirit of the lord shall
lift up a standard against him, as martin
was saying, he was saying look,
i was writing, signing my book
for some lady, next minute i felt
a beating on my chest—that blade
had gone through & x-rays revealed
the tip of it on the edge of my aorta
& once that's punctured you drown
in your own blood—that's the end
of you—had i sneezed i'd have died,
cops taking my organs like that cop
on that cb ordering some shepherd
to search our pontiac, sniff that box
of purses, purses waiting like turks in us,
those canyon guides, those salesmen
saying come huachuca we'll forage
for a bean, a dime-a-bean, got gold
in a bean! & that dog penetrating our
pontiac & that cop ripping our ribs
for those blue sequins in our chests—
belen echandias, english retreads
the prada, louis vuitton, ruehl no.
925, the hansen gross, birkin, vera
bradley, the hester van eaghen—
the wolves, the ships, the white
We prefer ocean fish, she said.
This was river bass. It was drifting in a pool by the bank,
tethered and forlorn. I told Mrs. Pinochet I'd give
the fish some thought.
Then I waded into the oxbow.
When I returned to the dock, her husband
drew the fish up for me to inspect it. It whipped
eight seconds. I touched it like a medic. I touched
the white of its nares. I closed my chest.
I took a vow. I will remove the fish from this water.
I will march to town with it slapped
over my shoulder. I know Englishmen
who buy tarbooshes and woo
Bedouin girls. Their myomeres shimmer in the sun.
It is 1972. Folks in rocket
ships are betting their limbs,
saying cockies for cocktails.
It is 1972, more than now.
I am on the stoop
with my flashcards, an extra
at the edge of the frame.
Insects light the elm
with kisses. A barouche chaise,
a flotilla of hats, rolling
igloo hats under a giant Paper hat—
it's Elton John and Kiki Dee.
Somewhere in the Sierra, Hosea
Ballou Grosh has stepped on an ax.
He will lose the leg to a young
Appendages are morons. Gerald
Ford phones from his diorama
to arrange an epilogue
but someone has booby-trapped
the cabinet. The president must fire.
Fire, Mr. President, fire!
The President fires a poor john.
Pelvises surge in value. Bunnies flood
the common with Sunday slogans:
Love ain't fun without a gun.
Razzmatazz ain't just a bunch of birds.