To _ While I'm Away in the West

To __ While I'm Away in the West

Montana—
and how can I go back to
the flat east,

your constricting heart?
your advances
like technology
brilliant, but ultimately
destructive

like the train that
stopped us in Butte
and then Big Sky
and the Bozeman

I think your smiling,
your fluid language
is a shrug way of holding
me back from the west 

I think Montana whiskey tastes
the way you taste when you kiss me
and think of her

I have been your woman
and your other woman
and one is as lonely as the other—
miles and miles of parched Indian casinos

like the one in Sheridan Wyoming 
where my dad found a half broken arrowhead
in beef colored soil all spoiled by cowboy heels
but he gave the chief's son 10 bucks for it still

                       You and my father are perhaps
The best displays of suffocating Midwest
versus mountain air

Whenever I feel you I
imagine the succumbing of
Youngstown to
Italiante mobsters and spray-paint banks
the way you relent to her slight of hand
(you old man)

but then
my father with fingers in
the Gallatin river
grows younger and less polluted
with the gushing of each white water tide

Montana—
and how can I go back to
your constricting heart?


Job 1:21

Afterwards, we linger in the dry grass of the Utah Territory

            because the train is supposed to be here.

We do not know we missed it by over a day

            and there is no clock to say so,

no black arms and evenly spaced face of little numbers

           -- only the rods of train track spread in parallels

like the arm of a Titan raked over again and again

            until the flesh recedes

and the slats of bone are left to oxide and petrify.


The Lord giveth and The Lord taketh away

            and we seek a savage religion

and we peel at the skin of brush weeds for water

            and we press our ears into the dirt

to hear the black train in some far city

            and to hear the passengers whisper Genesis and Job

and we listen until the syllables are no better

            than the croaking of our own strained tendons.