Wednesday, May 18, 2005

The Package at the Doorstep

With the first 20 copies of Riverfall arriving by airmail last week and the next 80 shipped via surface (i.e., ship) from Ireland, I feared I wouldn't receive the larger batch for up to a month from now. But when I got home, there they were, thankfully sheathed in bubble wrap, since the box had split at nearly every corner.

They come just in time for a book celebration and BBQ/potluck we're holding this weekend for some 80 or more of our closest friends, neighbors, and compatriots. And it's supposed to be 108 degrees F on Saturday, too!

It seems, then, that a desert poem is in order, this one also from Riverfall:

Coming Into Premeditated Light

And up from Navajo myths, the sandstone
sliced a scar that is my back, then crumbled

into a geometry of broken pottery.
This could be a trail, but I’ve become confused

by the painted walls, the architecture of caves—
here a bighorn, there a rigid warrior.

Only the red paint of my blood has touched
these broken walls since the Indians sketched

their script. Now my brushwork has added
new verses—a riverfall cascading onto hunting

grounds, a large ram drowned by my fresh blanket.
Up there, Shiprock rises like a thousand broken spears,

but beneath the dust, their gods must have commanded
worship in the form of fire, canyon, sacrifice.

And now, tracing the faint steps of this
subterranean trail, I press myself

through the grimace of the cave’s exit
and hear the grinding of black clay for the kiln,

the rhythm of the pre-hunt chant,
and the slow echo of stone chipping stone.

in memory of Ben Phillips

This is also the final poem of the book.




gina said...

Wow! You're speaking my language: Sonoran desert, Kore Press, 108 degrees F, and the UA Poetry Center. Glad to meet ya. I'm living in Galesburg, IL, now, but Tucson is my home. I spend my school year breaks there as I can. I'll be there during the month of June. Coffee?

Gina Franco

Simmons B. Buntin said...

Well if May is any indication of June, it better be iced coffee! Yes, give me a holler when you're in town: sb at riverfall - com. Thanks.