Selected Poems – Vegas


There’s a cross
in the desert sky
where two contrails meet.
An X drawn on a blue so stark
it must mean something,
I think.

Is it up there or down here,
this spot the X marks?

To the left of the aircraft
Las Vegas.

14 stories high, room 22025
you and I
in a black pyramid made of glass.
When night comes
from its apex a powerful beacon shines
straight-up into darkness.

My father lies in a hospital bed,
(in Tucson?).
Should I call after so many years?

Driving out of LA this morning
we climbed 3000 feet
from the glare and haze
up past the city of Ontario, past San Bernardino
(and then the world-famous Summit Cafe).
At 4000 feet it’s too dry even for the Joshua trees.
You read to me from the study-guide
I learn
John A. Macdonald was the father of confederation;
Nunuvut: Canada’s youngest territory,
April Fools Day, 1990 something–
it’s already gone.

At Barstow I remembered Harry Partch
and considered a run into the Mojave,
(When will pass here again?)
but didn’t.
We entered the realm of the pharaohs
and took the Inclinator up to our room with its slanted wall
which looks out over Henderson Field, the Mandalay Bay Inn
and the desert beyond.
It’s hard to believe there were meadows here once,
and I think
but do not say
you ought to meet your grandfather
When I look again the sky is clear.

After dinner we walk the strip
past New York New York, Paris and Monte Carlo,
we stop at the M&M theme-store.
On the corners, whole families fresh into America
hawk free singles classifieds.
They do this thing
rubbing the rolled paper in their palms
slapping it against their thighs,
thrusting it out down low
hoping for takers
amongst the fresh-faced Americans who wander here.

On our way back
we watch awhile
the flight of birds
very high aloft
as they drift in and out
of that intense beam.