The Viewing

(after leaving local draft board #25
and learning a close friend has died
in Viet Nam)

"Who dies now anywhere in the world,
without cause dies in the world,
looks at me."
            Rilke, Solemn Hour

Like the sand,  silent and discrete
I've met the clowns in the desert
watching them
choke old vultures with laughing somersaults
and dig coarse tombs
burying them   face down
on mirrors painted with flying swans
making them stare    with wide open eyes
at their own imaginations and bald heads
without preference
Proud jackals
eat salamanders   and the stars over Egypt
parading the carrion
by the pyramids   on black horses

Dead eyes have stared at me
snapping shut   like steel traps
biting into my live skin
with cruel names

I envy the scavengers
being able to eat the dead
and make it alive in themselves

While the body is fresh
even now   I sow wheat
deep rooting wheat
on his grave
to pray with the crows

David Swoyer
Contents | Mudlark No. 1
For a Friend Having His Tattoo Removed | Dying Near Easter