Ghost in the Land of Skeletons
For Russell Edson
- Christopher Kennedy
Ghost in the Land of Skeletons
For Russell Edson
A Single Tear
She who keeps on watching immortalized from a stone
window along the banks of the mighty Columbia.
She who has watched men walk on the backs of a million
Salmon & then fall in.
She who has seen the mighty river get fat & overflow
her banks behind pale dams.
She who has seen children grow under the glow of the moon
& the new glow of hanford.
She who has seen a people cry in silent tolling for the old ways
demolished beneath the feet of a civilization determined & arrogant.
She who has seen Coyote play many tricks in his sinister loving way.
She who has seen canoes morph to steam & barges
carrying hope up river.
She who has seen fires turn to street lamps.
She who has seen the battles of Pah-toe & Wy’east
& their long eerie silence.
She who has seen a river run red with blood of the lost.
(They say that one who has seen too much with no way to let it go
will more likely suffer from Post- Traumatic -Stress-Disorder which
manifests in different forms; from anxiety to unstoppable tears.)
She Who Watches weeps a single tear.
A place of neither time or space-
Where you hear the teenagers song
& smell them getting pregnant-
Around the alley on Poke St.-
Next to the local pawn shop.
A place where the cats eat the meat
of last night’s decadence-
Morality of a scavenger
Feasting on forgotten values
in man’s wasteful church.
A place where the homeless eat metaphors
of others good intent-
Around burning barrels the dance
the dance of lost dreams
to the drums of empty bottles & schizophrenia.
A place where wet pavement smokes dry ice
steaming like a dragon in Chinatown-
On side streets that are paved but never plowed
stands castrated angels in the mist of cold smokey air-
Grounded til the fog clears.
A place where shadows play hide-n-seek with the eyes
then are lost forever behind concrete.
& underneath the skyscraper canopy
that blocks out the sun-
You can see the yuppie in his Lexus car.
A place where the bombs of absurdity
explode in the ears of scabbed medicine men,.
In a land converted to asphalt (distant from ancestors)-
& medicine bags that carry rigs
to ride a black tarred hi-way to nowhere-
but somewhere I remember.
I remember the smell of rain after a storm-
I remember the winds that would howl-
and I always knew I would end up here somehow
with hope on my tongue
and years on my feet-
I make the Journey complete.
They sat on the edge of this polluted bay.
Watching Seagulls & Crows fight for leftover sky.
They watched the sun set.
Glowing with a red they created.
With their own ignorance.
With their own stupidity.
The feeling there-
On the shores of a thousand lovers-
They drink to the past-
They drink to the present-
Or they drink to the future.
As the moon rises conversation prevails-
so many things to forsee,
so many things to foretell.
We have stories,
We all share stories.
Her eyes grow dim
as the passing of night produces shadows.
Her eyes glisten-
glisten oil across this universe.
I once saw a man die from a broken heart-
It broke and could not be replaced by good intent.
I saw it split-
blood and guts and memories-
across the floor it lay-
and all the kings horses and all the kings men can not put it
back together again.
She took his bones and made a flute so his memory could sing-
She made tents from his flesh so his ghosts could sleep.
And on her altar she laid his memory.
I know you hold such memories buried deep inside,
yet your flesh does hide
and holds captive your dreams
as morbid shadows scream.
Poetic is as poetic does.
We shared our times,
We shared our blood,
We shared our dreams-
We are scarred.
She took his blood and made ink
tattooed across her eyelids-
so she could remember hope.
And all the kings horses and all the kings men-
Can never put us back together again.
The freedom to breathe
is ours to take.
As we become engulfed in shadow.
Grandmother was born on the threshold of a new age.
Assuming the role of a Father’s neglect
and a savior of a generation left with no shrine
So I build this altar of memory.
I remember her smell
Of prime rib and perfume-
Chasing me around with sinister dentures
And telling Skookum stories-
Scaring me from flesh
And finding my heart.
She dreamt and had visions
But kept them to herself-
Yet I could see them
In her eyes.
Her wrinkles ran like Gorges-
Where the tears would
And the struggle
Was her life
That she would
Rites of passage transformed
In cigarettes and Patsy Cline
And looking for love
In all the wrong places.
We are all children
I lay a feather on this altar
And hear the wind sing-
“Fall to pieces.”
Sit silent in the chorus of Frog songs.
dripping heavy, the Creek runs whitewash.
In these moments.
I can hear the land weep.
The Frogs regain their voice.
and we sing in unison.
with shaky words
and sore backs.
and disappear in the wash
How blessed are we
to still hear these,
composed beneath the Summer Moon,
It’s that distinct way that wood smoke pummels into the mist
and the way the Sun fights to be regonized.
It’s that certain way the trees turn to golden reds
and hues of Ambers.
It’s that certain way the mud gets stuck in my boots
and the moist ground summons the fungus to the sky
and then back to its orgins.
It’s that certain way the fog dances across the grassy plains.
It’s that certain way that the Elk rut
and you can hear their bugle calls
over the hushed quiet of fall.
It’s that certain way when you know the white blanket will come
and engulf us soon
and the wood smoke
and Hearths will be the only thing we know.
And in a certain way I give thanks
because in a certain way-
this is what it is all about.
All the petty and the trite
gets buried in this scene-
the mists rising above the waters like ghosts.
It is these ghosts I give up now,
an offering of smoke.