— for La Cruda, Portland, Oregon
Now and then when the sky is right
I leave my friends in the bar after hours,
climb the hill that leads back home.
The drink I’ve had, the last one there,
has forever altered the laws of physics
so the houses lurch and the trees lean,
the sidewalk swerves bending on.
The birds are bells where the dogs still dream
and soon I’ve arrived in the middle of the road
which my eyes align as the middle of it all.
Now the stars are smeared medallions hung
just for the party—they never were suns.
Now the moon’s not a celestial body,
it’s a naked bulb representing one.
Below shines the city where every child is safe.
And my friends who drink at the first light’s edge,
who drink to live, will find their way.
Cats glare at the tilting man
as I turn and climb higher still.
The world is rising. The world is not round.
When I was born
the sky flamed white with orange
pockets. The man with the shirt
told me so. He sat next
to the woman with white pants
who lived close to the red hospital.
This thing—the hospital—
wasn’t really red unless you thought “red”
but wanted blue. Everything else
was mostly yellow those days
and floated in a kind of dream.
The words I know
are filled with colors
that are dying, that have died,
blue the color of the death of blue
fire the color of fire.