The American Mythos

copperhead and water moccasin
and the long bamboo hook
with the loop to catch them
contain fang and venom in a barrel
filled with scorpion and spider
such were the objects of our desire

the scorpion stings the spider
the snake eats the scorpion
I laugh even though
I do not think it was ever funny
then some little kid kicks the can
over suddenly and the world
is screaming and on fire

everyone running to the river
not forgetting no Lethe no Leman
no sticks or stones skipping
over the black mercurial flow
of our summer god that summer
the Trinity River
our own fertile tributary of the Ganges
reading our names written
long ago in sandy riverbed
composed of ashes of the dead

the alligator gar comes crossing
the seam spreading behind prehistoric eyes
moving like music rising up in morning fog
hung over the water like a faceless shroud
of the man who refused to die turned upside down

lamb's blood threads whirlpools
beyond the gate of horn
there we were so perfectly young
and knocking knocking and waiting
not knowing waiting for it to be opened
pounding upon the rock fearing not
beating upon my chest like Tarzan
and all my companions
silent in the canoe

Old Man Johnson
crazy legged cannibal
lived in the yellow house up the river
under beards of moss and spider web
wasp nested bug infested
an abandoned place
the lost temple of the Trinity
broken dusted windows
watching me climbing
upon the rotting stairs
on a board creaking dare
the others fixed in the canoe
in the electric midnight air

seeing those strange deflated balloons
slithering slow around the room
grey white maggots odor of ozone in an ooze
ammonia and the wet chasm chthonic water womb
mysteries in whispered fables told with no morals
in the licking light of last night's campfire
under a prurient moon

up there in the vacant living room I descended
avoiding brown syringes rusted blood bent broken
gradations of furious desire and dark brown bottles
cooing like owls in the tarnished boughs
as a fur white cocoons crack open
underneath my standing releasing spilling
light blue crystalline vaporine tendrils that tenderly
performed strange alchemy upon the soft pink neural caves
of my innocent virgin brain
the gar awakening in black water from a dream
a long snake moans uncoiling from my spine
as I am finally before the door again

thinking not hoping
that no one will really answer
as if I am praying to the dead god
then the heavy footsteps
from the other side
Old Man Johnson thump and slide
one leg missing broken stride
heavy thundering hammering
coming from the other side
here's your prayer's answering
he coming to get me
fear igniting stumbling falling

then the icy kiss of the needle
this medical metallic penetration
injecting rusty burning under the skin
the violent rattle of the door
the thundering of the floor
up and stumbling tripping
collapsing in the bottom of the canoe

go go go and my tribe pounding
the ancient waters of the Trinity
like those others from so long ago
questions questions then the silent staring
at the needle hanging wasp bent
into my hand I see it now again
and I begin again to understand

tumbling down that Trinity
with epiphanic explosions
celebrating headless prophets
wandering the concrete rivers
in Augustine's Lost City of God
preaching poetry to the whores
in wild mad howling cries
Babylonian babblings sung
as we cut through the water
under empty skies

ageless paddling into gargoyle mocking winds
before me I see the bone white barge
floating in the flesh and furnace of the Congo
a thousand cannibals danced in files
the skull faced lean witch doctors
mumbo jumbo mumbo jumbo
what do I remember of that skeletal tale
squalor and sad trumpet elephantine ivory
barges drifting overloaded with bones
oozing luminescent slime from the moon
crocodiles chasing little black sambo
grows a tail turns into a tadpole
shakes down in the mud
like a topless dancer
primordial sludge
I am now forever
buried in the deep down darkness
of things

crucified women
sing from crosses
lining the banks
there hung she
distant dreamer of days
in an all-american trance
suffering sarcastically
with twilight truth
unrequited love
and this misspent youth

falling faintly faintly calling the archangel
furious over missed annunciations
priest torn vestments that no longer cover
obscene statues of pagan masturbations
pounding pounding pounding
upon the dead god's drum
until I saw her

she floated
in a pretense of magnificent mammalian abandon
licking her pink nails with a serpent's tongue
my life now lost in her endless life line lying
in her palm tree oasis as she slipped up soft inside of me
and caressed my spine
yes she asked
as if I was now compelled and under oath
and yes I replied

the boys still dive into the Trinity
from sun splattered cliffs
arcing super heroes
into quietly desperate destinies
as the alligator gar glides
beneath them hungrily
Crazy Leg Johnson is still coming to get me
we are all of us bound together at the bone
perhaps these are all too much with me
too much and never enough
because my wound is always aching
this dark spinal scar
upon the American Mythos
forged in those interior fires
of the long lost summer fables

we had no idea we spoke as oracles
hoping for dead god's voices
to wake us before we drowned