When the lightning came through the socket in the house
he went out onto the Great American Plain to confront his maker

and in the thick night air with only smatterings of rain but the deep
thunder that tickles bone he thought of the visions that have changed

the world—the brave if slightly stupid ones in the lightning storm
with hands splayed against the sky and the human voice daring to find

an equivalent sound and then he thought of the love available to all of us
like electricity in the wall of a house that sometimes comes unbidden.


Cycling the north coast I think of the birth of cool
as a blue jay follows me, darting and dipping like Miles.

This sound is not ours alone.  The trumpet in the darkened
club, dense with grief, with revelation, rises out of the blood

of all Earth’s creatures, out of the light that sinks into every
frantic eye.  I know this bird is not sorrow, I know this bird

is not grief, but the dark clouds suckling the hills are almost
the breast that fills the baby—nearly the waves that slow the

backbeat to make the human swoon.  I am riding north to
escape this body, to encourage wind in its persistent desire

to change us.  I am riding bird and I am alone, like the giant
onstage whose eyes glaze to increase the miles, who welcomes

shocks from the road—a sudden lightning, because birds can
sense when the earth is about to give, its cymbals will hush...

when the sister mysteries will blow out the final note we love.


In the small town of Delhi
pronounced Del-high
at the gas station on the corner
where Route 2 bends eastward
Bobby fills his tank then wanders
into the aisles of the mini-mart
to shadow a heavy-set
dull-eyed girl who must have
odd genes for there’s
something in the way she shifts
yet still stares that suggests
these hills have been gnawing
at her kin since they came
one maybe two hundred years ago
when the Appalachians were
rubber bumpers before the Plains
and her kin lodged in because
sometimes dreams are pencil lines
on the wall the older sibling makes
and we feel forever under

he’s only passing through
but if Bobby stayed he would slip into
the old hotel built for the river-men
and on loose springs and a damp mattress
dream again his escape from the body
which troubles the way weather can
—ominous then bright then ominous—
and draw closer to her sweaty neck
her eyes fixed on another bag of chips
to listen to her breathe.