- The Collected Poems of Said Gun, and: Said Gun’s Chores, and: Said Gun Considers His Landscape, and: Said Gun Considers the Shrike, and: Said Gun on His Deathbed
The Collected Poems of Said Gun
Like ants, they are nourished on tiny fragments of stone.
They bed down in lavender and lick their horrible hooves.
They have five stomachs so that they can digest the sorrow of the world.
They turn it into another kind of blackness that is fecund and useful and nauseating and loud with flies.
One eye is always missing.
They win many prizes, and for each they are rewarded with new hay and tick powder.
Sturdy as tar.
Some sleep standing up and each time they wake they collapse.
Some don’t sleep at all; like fish they drift in the murk of their silted vision.
Disloyal as blood.
They vary in size: some are 700 pounds and have to be hung off the bucket of a backhoe with grade 100 chain to dry in the sun, some are too small to see and are born with no mouths and fly on their frail wings for only one day.
In the cold of morning, they publish their breath into the wind’s long scour. [End Page 47]
They are a goat of testimony, a wineskin of abolition, a slaking of thorns.
They are among the finest burning animals of their generation.
A herd of dereliction. A gift of nevertheless. [End Page 48]
Said Gun’s Chores
I rub axle grease on the bottom of fruit treesto keep the rabbits from chewing the sap before it can rise.
I dole my coffee grounds into the mouths of wormsto wake the earth up.
I place my teeth in a cup of sizzling waterso that my mouth can continue to be the whiteness inside of oracle’s O.
I organize my pills with such careit’s as if I’m playing chess against my own body.
I aerosol a hornets’ nest with Spectracideto work through my powerlessness.
I thaw the flesh of animals on my counterso that my death will not be alone.
I look at my ancient body in the mirrorin order to be the cartographer of one distant country.
I cast my scraps into the briarto conjure some reluctant gorgeous piebald dog.
I dip every object I own into vinegarbecause I am the archivist of my scarce life.
I sweep little bones from my stepsso that mice can become cabbage.
I measure the strata of my wellby lowering a cat on a rope until it bawls.
I clip couponsout of the Collected Works of Ralph Waldo Emerson. [End Page 49]
I wish I could bury an ancient cunning pigbecause there is nothing more satisfying than burying your least favorite pig.
I chum my spittoonto let the earth know it’s time to grow dark.
I restack my cinder blocksso I can see how, wriggling underneath them, the meek never wanted the earth. [End Page 50]
Said Gun Considers His Landscape
Beside the sunrisethe prairie is floating in its brightened East:it carries away the ambitions of menwho drained bogs, felled clots of pines, divertedfrigid creeks, slept in their kitchens, dug horse graves.The unkillable North grass swallows it all.Cardinals flit, swift and red as matches.
Black soils,barns’ distempers steeled me, blood and cerebellum,to live faced with such distance.As the repossession agent, as the wolf,as the scavenger, I ran amok in all withouta claim. I respected none.The dead clutch their stones and are satisfied.What an engine I’m building inside of me—this machine, revving the mind’s queer boneswith spark plug and grease and transmission,with heat and clatter and smooth gears,with the piston’s one hysterical plea.
The roots weave tapestries. The crow argues for more light.
The cows dream their milk and the quail haunt dawn.There used to be small roadside huts built hereto hide cold children waiting for the bus.Brothers sat leg to leg and reckoned their scars.