OWED TO A CIGARETTE

ODE TO A CIGARETTE

 

Apart from you I would not want to walk

Outside the walls of that old factory.

Unwrapped from oath to sacred shopworn talk,

I break beneath this Eucalyptus tree.

I hold you to my lips in flagrant ways.

I draw you to my heart as I recall

A high-school dance and breathless summer days

When getting laid (yes, not laid-off) was all.

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Lay brothers and lay sisters gather now

With us below the flight and cry of birds

To conjure flame, to contemplate, to bow

And fume about our foreman’s fabled words.

I clench the steady temper they might use:

Consider you downsizing like a fuse.

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LIVING IT DOWN

See? I know!  I told you so: Self-reliance.

Maybe living out of this car is alright

Just as long as both of us get sleep this night.

Our alliance

            Like warm breath inside of our car condenses

            As the night surrounding us freezes one inch

            Higher than our habitat.  Struggling, I cinch

            All my senses

Eating cold fried French-cut potatoes plus cream.

Was I always out-of-it?  Giving someone

All my time and someone else every hard won

Claim to my dream?

            In the hour before dawn, with my goblins

            I steal silver shamefully from the newsstand.

            With it we have just enough bait and both land

            Egg McMuffins

That we eat in just three bites.  Then we eddy

To the bathrooms.  Fumbling with the water

Rubbing soap onto my beard, starting slaughter,

Hands unsteady

            With the old disposable razor I kept.

            We drank all that bottle of Nyquil last night

            Fifty-proof cold medicine outshines Bud Lite.

            You and I slept.

Still our heads are really numb.  Was it worth it?

Wine’s not cheaper.  Harder to fit my jacket.

So to steal it isn’t as smooth a racket.

Holy horseshit!

            Toilet paper!  Don’t forget that again, please.

            You can stuff it into your purse for later.

            I am not an underwear cultivator.

            Facing stories

In the mirror, taking a last look feeling

Far away from everything that I still see

Widely split.  I can’t get around it in me

Double-dealing

            All that we believed-in is gone into haze.

            One year this day (am I again to be old?)

            Our fish market had to be closed and then sold.

            Recall replays:

Kissing you upon the full moon

(You were just the sweetest sixteen).

Bumping heads the very next day.

(Thoughts of mine were really obscene).

Getting that new job on the First

(In the month of no Halloween).

Hurt my head again two more times

(Somehow, somewhere there in-between).

Tea I drank and poetry thought.

(Even now who knows what I mean?).

In the meantime:

Pardon me for day-dreaming in this bathroom

While you open alleyway doors and break-out

In those red marks over your face as I doubt,

Like a bridegroom,

            Waking up from everything he knew better,

            Asking himself “Can it be eating too well

            Is the thing that’s making her stomach out-swell

            That loose sweater?”

As you stumble up against that last frontier

Slumping back and sliding-on down to cold ground

Eyes closed, laughing “Since I am clearly earth-bound

I’ll wait right here.”

            Hope you hear that cop stopping in his rover

            Kneeling so you focus on him saluting.

            Please hear “Madam President, no disputing:

            Fun is over.”
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OLLA PODRIDA

His remains am I: thrusted discharge,
dismissed during his licentious tempest.
Longview, Texas, he departs at large
(evanescent love compels unrest);
fleece-line boots, unfettered, disappearing,
settle a DNA test.

Buried dream in her am I, still adhering
unrefined in mean lodging; faithfully
colonizing her hysteria.  Endearing,
vainly imitating tales of chivalry,
inarticulate sobs explode romance,
falling from allegiance, cataclysmically.

Dr. Bergen vetoes my immature glance
out of pelvis, into basin, skull a broken frame.
Pricked asunder under that clinical lance
I subside into silence and sink beneath shame.
Bottom line: at the brink of life insurance surcharge
I am making final payment and adjusting claim.
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KENNY IN THE CROSSWINDS

The Crosswinds ‘a bar and a cowboy shrine
Down on Commonwealth Avenue, due West,
Across from the Fullerton Airport sign.
Watch for Pintos and Cadillac classics.
Bring ID if you look under thirty.

A Bar-B-Q smokes right inside the bar
Next to booths and a stage and a dance floor
And she will be there, all alone so far
Glimpsing all of the drinkers and dancers.
Mostly she will be staring at Kenny

Of Kenny C. Pride and the Country Wide,
Up on stage with his eyes in the shadow
That falls from his black hat, a bona fide
Stetson.  Smiling and fiddling while he’s
Singing “Could I have loved you forever?”
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A barmaid goes up on her rendezvous,
Smiling, placing a note in his pocket.
He grins, “A request that I can’t refuse.”
“Now we’d sure like to bring up our good friend,
Teddy Bear, who will sing a few with us.”

A bear-sized young man bearing side-burned jowls
Climbs up lumbering with his own fiddle.
He bows to the band then he grins and growls
“Hey, y’all, why don’t’cha just grab a ‘C’ chord!
See if y’all can hold on!” (Man he’s wailing!)

And then she’s beside you and wants to dance.
Even if she is older than you are,
Who cares?  Don’t her white lace and tight black pants
Git along with a long little doggie?
Say a prayer ‘cause you care for the prairie!

“A double-time Two-Step back-Left, back-Right.”
“Horse…!” Kick! “Shit!” Kick!  And “Chicken..!” Kick! “Shit!” Kick!
“I hug pretty girls in the pale moonlight,
What do y’all think  of Teddy Bear so far?”
“Bull…!” Kick! “Shit!” Kick!  And Left-back and Right-back.

Well, shit, howdy! Kenny is in your space.
Now he’s taking her off of the dance floor.
He talks at her close to her pouting face,
Pointing right at you.  How do you feel now?
Just like horse shit, chicken shit, and bull shit.

She points to the pocket the barmaid touched,
Then she snatches that barmaid’s note.
He snatches it back and he keeps it clutched,
Pointing right in her face with his finger.
Now she strolls to the bar and she sits down.

She’ll order a Screw Driver.  That is planned.
Kenny Pride will be back in the stage-light.
“Unless I am wrong we’re the only band
Playing here at The Crosswinds except on
Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday and Thursday.”
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WHERE THE HOURS CLANGED AND FELL

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I hear a church bell summon the temporal
Above aspiring blades of grass.
A canorous cloak of charming syllable
Descends to gather us en masse.
And as the lawn-mower’s final pass
Disturbs the moment, time will tell,
With whispers from the hourglass,
Where the hours clanged and fell.
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Disgorges the church bell so ineffable
Extolling what the din devours.
A neighbor passes with a Bible,
Rebounding from the earthen powers.
A haggard bee still haunts the flowers
As if a question to dispel
By hovering in this yard of ours
Where the hours clanged and fell.
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That bell outranking from its pinnacle
The proud, rebellious, vain bright sky.
Appealing to the commonly sensible
By hear-say so to prophesy.
The game is interrupted by
Commercials trying to outsell
The other deals that justify
Where the hours clanged and fell.
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So deep down into ink on pages
The Sunday Paper headlines yell,
Alarming us as history rages
Where the hours clanged and fell.
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YOU ARE A COYOTE FOR THE LAST TIME

The most pernicious myth about American Indians is that they are vanishing. While many Native American cultures have, alas, been obliterated, many have survived.

The Bow Leaders have served Yaqui communities for centuries as a military society.  Nowadays the society’s main function is a religious duty.

The singer accompanies himself with a drum. There is a sounding hole in the rim of the drum, and traditionally the singer sings into that hole.

– From “Coyote Songs”
by Larry Evers and Felipe S. Molina

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I am Refugio Savala, returned from college in Arizona to my Yaqui village in Mexico.  I wanted to form a Coyote Singer Bow Leaders group.  I played my song for my friends.  I sang into my ceremony drum:

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Ignacio Lucero was called a coyote,
You would not see him pass,
Beneath the evening star,
He knew the secret trails,
He lead people north,
Through the wilderness world,
Into Gringo Land

In a group he lead my mother and my little sister,
But on the third day in the wilderness my mother was weary and she could not keep up,
Ignacio Lucero said he would wait for my mother if he could fuck my little sister,
My mother fought Ignacio Lucero,
So Ignacio Lucero left my wounded mother and my little sister behind to die.

My little sister was found,
My  mother died keeping my little sister alive
La Migra brought my little sister to me,
She told me about Ignacio Lucero,
I left college to find Ignacio Lucero.

I and my big sister at last found the man Ignacio Lucero in a bar,
I and my big sister made a plan,
My big sister pretended to be a whore,
She drugged the drink of Ignacio Lucero,
She walked him out of the town to me,
When Ignacio Lucero was asleep we bound and gagged him,

I laid Ignacio Lucero on a pile of wood,
Under the morning star I lit the fire,
When Ignacio Lucero opened his eyes,
He saw me, he saw God, he saw the Devil,
He could not cry out his agony as I said “You are a coyote for the last time.”

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One of my friends then said to me,
“Bow Leaders defend,
They do not take revenge,
Something very bad will happen to you and your sisters,
Now sing that you have killed the wrong Ignacio Lucero because that coyote stole the name from Ignacio Lucero.”

So then I sang:

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Now I want to die,
I can not live with myself,
I want to die,
I will kill myself ,
I will kill myself.

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One of my friends then said to me,
“The Great Spirit forbids killing yourself,
Something very bad will happen to your sisters,
Now sing that you will atone like a Coyote Singer Bow Leader.”

So then I sang:

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I have taken the name Ignacio Lucero,
I will fulfill his life to his family,
I am Ignacio Lucero,
I am Ignacio Lucero,
I am a Coyote Singer Bow Leader for the last time.

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