THERMOS 10: Two Poems by Hunter Deely

Here are two poems from our special issue of THERMOS featuring Hunter Deely’s poetry. You can check back every couple days in the coming month for more of his poetry. For an introduction, see here.

Ghost Dance

At the end of the caliche the cedars
slowdance to ghost dogs howling
will you miss me when I’m gone?
The man and woman who live
in the grey house take in foster children
for a check from the state. At night
Venus and the Moon start to argue
above the blue-skinned trees, the white
road, you will miss me when I’m gone.
An androgynous kid with black glasses
hides in the trees and stares
down the spiral of a .22 barrel,
and the limestone rises through broken
fences like rivers on a map, across
her arms and her chest and up on
to her skinny throat and her breathing
closes up as fossils turn in her eyes.
She watches the grey house from a distance
and dreams stoneward of silence
against death. I am the voyeur
in the tall grass, I am still with fear
that she will see me and turn her gun
on me as blackbirds fly from her mouth.
But she is the paralyzed. Her scarf
of rivers unflowing turns to rust,
and the ghost dogs howl in the yard
of the grey house at the end of the caliche.
The eyes of the orphan sound like a banjo.

In the Land of the Great Goat – Hunt, Texas – May 2008

After the flood the ground is littered with the bodies of dead fish. We walk along the banks of the river still running faster than normal but back within its old bounds and smell the rotting carcasses and the mud churned into algal butter that clings to our boots. We are looking for love inside five acres. At the edge of a grove of cedars we hear a strange cackling sound, like something with wide eyes has been watching us, and look. Look up. The skeleton of a catfish caught in the twigs at the top of a dried up cedar, swaying back and forth in the wind so that each time it leans south it grazes a telephone wire and goes ssshhhzzz . . . ssshhhzzzz. Across the field where the cougar sleeps at night there is a grove of sycamores. Now we can hear the cars from the highway hush past. Approach—like the end of everything built into its beginning. And then, there it is. Perched on the thick, white limb of a sycamore is a billy goat, gnawing the leaves. He seems quite unperturbed by his situation. He stares down at us for a moment with his brown eye bulging, stares straight into our hopped up, drunken, childish, colonized, burnt out, brilliant, love-flooded eye-soul-heart-brain-faces, and then goes back to his meal of wide leaves inscribed with the possible tributaries of a world that will die each autumn. We wonder if we should do something – call the volunteer fire department, perhaps – but he seems quite content. So we lay down and make love at the base of the tree, to the sound of the river and highway. And when we rise again from the earth, the impressions of the smooth riverstones have made red rings on your back.Your skin is a brief map of Venn diagrams, fading, as the river recedes, and in the intersections are other possibilities and disappear as your blood fills back up your skin. We look up at the goat, and he looks back at us, chewing, watching, the closest thing we ever knew to God.


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