September 27, 2009

The Joe Prather From Etown Down to 65

big bird day
on the Joe Prather
wild turkey
black helicopter gunships

on down
to the concrete artery

* * *

Comin' down out of Elizabethtown
hills recoil from geometric violence
cut down through
laid bare and vulgar,

a dwarf pine sprouts from the rubble, or
maybe it only looks like a dwarf being,
as it is, a hundred feet up

& there's silt on the cliff midway up
a jutting corrupted by scrappy plant life

hidden valleys running up north and west
peaking in around the curves-
(in the morning fog flows through them
a cloud river
one dip you even drive under the vapor current)
(in the afternoon they attract the helicopters
like sweet fields of clover
attract the buzzing bees)


* * *

despite the best efforts (etc.)
the hills sliding off down to 65
bow not to symmetry -
the Joe Prather
doesn't cut down clean through time
the hills,
instead of sliced (as with a knife)
are cloven (as with an axe)

hills pushed this way and that

all gone grainy with gravel
stained with spring storms
filtered down through the forest up top
head a red leather sap
wild turkeys fat on the picking ground
black crow king
hop-hop-hopping away
no need to fly
no need to flinch
black cobra copters
buzzing the green valley

brother eagle may fly up on the ridge
but buzzard turkey and crow
rule Joe Prather.


* * *

you're climbing down off the good christian ridge,
winding down through history,
(archeologist of the quotidian)
through accumulated layers of death and insult
ossified in the silt & granite

- and out to the river
flowing south through Nashville and Memphis
and north through Louisville, Indianapolis, and Chicago.

* * *

The Joe Prather Blues

One of these days, and it won't be long
You'll look for me, but I'll be gone
It's all done, nothin' left to do
One of these days, I'm-a gonna quit you

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