Mudlark Flash No. 76 (2013)

from All the Beautiful Dead Along the Side of the Road
Poems by Christien Gholson

                                  Song of Release from
                                      The Forever War

		                 Bristle-tipped leaves, teeth 
                     			        of a cold wind. Faded red 
		        swastika on the concrete embankment. Symbol
					                   stolen from the world below: 
	         		                                     Caliginous tunnels, veins 
                                      of underlight (what illuminates 
                                                          		              the world above). 

     	                                   	              Rock sings.

                   	               Stone mouths slow-shift with earth’s turns. 

		       Who prays to release the spirits chained in red paint?  

		   		                         Crow, red leaf.  

		  	 	                         Black branch, red eye. 

				                         Heart beat, snipers scope. 
                                                                                                                                          Santa Fe, New Mexico			                    

                            Hanging from the Top Branch
                                Behind an Empty House

Above streetlights, passing cars, 
the last pears. Brown skins 

hold summer’s water, fire, fire’s 
emptiness. They’ll fall, 

one by one, into long grass 
behind a stone wall, 

gathered up by the woman 
who drowned her children 

to save them from loneliness. 
No one will eat them. 
                                                                                                       Swansea, Wales                                                                                                       

            Thinking about Henry Ford while Staring at the Dust Basin
                                  That used to be Owens Lake

                                                                                             Lake dust rides the wind 
			         to the height of Mt. Whitney. One Henry Ford 
		            follows another out of the dust. No redwing, no cattail,
		        						                                                      no hawk
		            perched on a phone pole. One Henry Ford 
		           				                                follows another, thumb out, 
	                pretending to be Henry Fonda (as Tom Joad), 
					                             each one believing he’s the underdog,
				                               the one who has given so much to so many.
	                                    What can his workers possibly want now? 
				            	                                    He gave all he could give...
	               	                     One Henry Ford follows another, 
							                                            running dust hands over 
		        the remnants of the aqueduct that crossed the Mojave. 
									                                                         Water, water,
		                         to feed the radiant grid; the promise of More.   Water,
		                to help light the way for all the Henry Ford’s 
		 following one another  out of the dark, out of the scattered dust,
				                                                                                seeking brilliant form.				                                                         
									                                                        Owens Valley, California

A 200 mile aqueduct from the Owens Valley, across the Mojave, to Los Angeles was completed in 1913, beginning its century-long obsessive search for water. As predicted, Owens Lake eventually ran dry. To this day LA still pumps water from the aquifer beneath the valley. The aquifer will eventually go the way of the lake.

                        Two Months Writing a Novel in an Empty Church

                                        A creature haunts the cold cellar 
                       releases spiders through the floorboards at night. 
	                               The table lamp casts long shadows 
                                                                                   across the wall.

	    A local school board allowed Creationism to be taught 
			              instead of evolution (God 
	               made the earth 6000 years ago, in six days?).

		                                   There was a lawsuit, thank god.

		                                      If I could crawl inside 
	  the milkweed pod next to the mailbox across the road 
	      when the seeds take on the colors of the setting sun...

				                         Down the road 
	   a man sits on a mower in his front yard, hooked 
		      to an oxygen tank, .22 pistol 
			                                   wedged in his belt. 
	               Wife left. Daughter far away. Two heart attacks.

	                                              Two squash-faced dogs 
	    wait under the apple tree all day, every day,
	                      for the same tractor (the only tractor) to pass. 

              At dusk they leap up, baying, disappear 
				                           into the tractor’s road dust. 
	       And every sunset, hundreds of geese, 
					                                      heading south, 
	                          white feathers tainted red. 

					                                   A map in the blood.
						                                                                       Endless Mountains, Pennsylvania 
							 	                                                                    (near Meshoppen)

                                            Patio of Las Castañeda

                                                  (from the photo series “Mental Hospital La Castañeda” 
                                                                                        by Kati Horna)
	    in rags, sprawled on concrete, 
	          half in sun, half in shade. The one 
         in the foreground, head on his knees —  

what has he seen that he cannot speak? Wind 
  all night through missing panes; cellophane 
         cigarette wrapper skipping 
	   		                     across creosote flats. 

     Did he feel us 
            beyond the lens, moving frame to frame 
through this museum, hung between 
         burnt fingers playing an accordion of sand

        and the much-anticipated announcement 
                    of what will save us at last?  
							                                                    Pallant House Gallery 
							                                                     Chichester, England

                                                Reading Celan,
                                        Listening to the Owls Call

                                      		Drops after a hard rain:
          			     one and one and one...
					                                      then, the cry:  
	    		           	       Who made the world?
			                  Who makes the world now?
		         				                     A question, 
		             falling through empty space. The emptiness  
		                                   that holds us together.

		              And at the edge of sleep, an answer, 
							                                    far off —   			
			 	             Who made the world?
			                Who makes the world now?
								                                                  Woodstock, New York

Christien Gholson is the author of the novel, A Fish Trapped Inside the Wind (Parthian, 2011), and On the Side of the Crow (Hanging Loose Press, 2006; re-issued by Parthian in the UK, 2011), a work of loosely linked prose poems. His work has appeared in various journals, including Alaska Quarterly Review, Big Bridge, Ecotone, Hanging Loose Magazine, Lilliput Review, and Poetry Wales, among others. Two long poems have previously appeared here at Mudlark: The Sixth Sense and The Black Edge. Gholson’s take on Beauty & Terror, the paintings of Leonora Carrington, Rimbaud, The Day of the Dead, and many other subjects can be found on his blog: noise & silence

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