© 2019 by John Edmondson

Ceremony

 

His car is vampire red,

a good match

for the lipstick of the girls

who hang out in the diner.

 

It’s got the gleaming wheels

long studied in Gomez’ window,

titanium and thirteen spokes

to justify the price.

 

He eats some pizza, drinks a beer,

walks out into the night.

The guys say nothing,

watch the neon glide along his chrome.

 

With a roar and spray of grit

on the road towards Las Cruces,

he claims his place

and hurtles into life.

 

 

Two degrees of separation

Deep in the night in a building

with no windows somewhere in Nevada,

the drone and all the intel proving good,

Sergeant Billy (the Kid) slams down his console,

roars at the squad, high fives all round.

           

Over supper we chat about weekend breaks,

one eye on the TV, the News on mute:

 

an all-white city in afternoon sun

suddenly powdered with puffs of angel dust;

seen from above in blurry monochrome,

a street shudders and melts for a moment

then gels back to show a crater;

a crowd carrying coffins at head height

wailing, inconsolable.

Slogans on the slaughterhouse wall

 

They were daubed in passion,

blue and red warring for the eye,

thrilling the blood-sweet air.

Then seasons drained their meaning

as letters roughened into grey and brown

flailed by dust and flecks of bone.

 

A sudden crack in the mid-day heat

and a blister bursts. A gleam of scarlet

catches the eye, jogs the mind back

to the freshness and the cheers.

Soon the new-found edge will lose its cut

and the web will glue its prey.

The Navajo

 

He was a giant in his prime,

an icon for his nation,

known in every stadium

throughout the land.

 

Brought low by booze and sugars,

he lives on welfare in the last street

on the western edge of town,

where rooves are painted red and green and blue

to match the buttes and skies

and lift the dullness of the days.

 

He wheels himself outside

to watch the sun go down

as black clouds from the north push out the white.

Tonight, the storm is made of sand.

It lashes at his eyes, his mouth,

the bruises on his deep-scored skin.

 

He does not move.

One day soon he may be carried,

at shoulder-height again,

towards the crackling pyre.

Georgia on my mind

(two days after a visit to Tate Modern)

 

ninety minutes of colour

line and shape

drag my senses

to extremes

and yet

 

to see takes time

I take away not flowers

hills or skulls

but Black Places,

My Last Door

and clear pure air

Downwind

 

Breezes came gently,

warm on the back.

Flashes of glass

carried in the air.

 

Death skulks

in bones and genes.

A bill goes up

in the clinic window:

Were you in Iron County

in ’53 or ’57?

Cell

 

Razorwire sparkles in the sun outside,

casts soft-edged scimitars onto the wall.

They slice the hours into silent segments

and cascade slowly to hit the floor

at a slightly different point each day.