Thursday, November 11, 2010

Faces (audio poem)

Duane Howard: Flute


a part of me died with him
a part of him lives with me
- Eduardo Galeano

Last night I saw you again, cousin, propped against the tree where I found you. Only this time, you weren’t holding a bottle. Instead, iced in your grip was a book. The one I always wanted you to read. I tried prying it from your hand but you wouldn’t let it go. When I woke up I smiled because it occurred to me that you never liked to read, saying life was too short for it. Then I got up and wrote about a storyteller.

-You can always tell when dogs have found someone and when coyotes have. Coyotes, you understand, are not like dogs. Out of fear, a dog will not eat from a discovered carcass for several days. But when he does, it is the stomach first - the delicate organs, I suppose. Next, the buttocks and thighs, then the calves and onward until finally, the gnawed remnants are discovered and eventually placed where they belong. No, they are not like dogs at all. Coyotes begin with the face and often it is all they eat. Maybe they think they can fool us and we won’t recognize the person we are looking for. When you are looking for someone who can’t be found, go out at night and listen. If you are patient you will hear them gather, those coyotes. Then you must go where the yips and barks are. When you get there, you must say nothing and move carefully until everything has been made proper. It’s like hunting.

Yes, we did these things together didn’t we, cousin? – Fracturing our delicate selves with the desperate company of strangers who did things dangerous and beautiful. Didn’t we quarrel and contend with the enemy, determined in the destruction of myth and making our own, sometimes actually making history? Didn’t we leave behind the cages, the scorched earth and fermented dreams, and a kind of slaughter every place we went?

We put you in the frozen ground and Joey cried, “I ain’t got a big brother no more!” I didn’t tell him he was wrong or right because I always doubt the things I’m sure of.

I left too, and went across the mountains. Now I live by the ocean, where the Indians are nice and care what people think of them. You don’t have to know anything out here, you need only appear to. You’d hate it, cousin. But, you’d be glad to know I still break the occasional glass and remain hell-bent on destroying notions. I write it down and read it for us and everyone at home and anybody else who cares to listen.

Tonight, I’ll take some of our favorite into the woods with me and spread a blanket out under a tree somewhere. Maybe I’ll hear coyotes. I’ll tilt my head back and listen for the rush of water and smoke a cigarette for you – that maybe, this is all there is…

this terminal condition.

© 2010 Champsteen Publishing


  1. Very deep Larry...You say what you feel and the details are vivid. There is also both anger and a sadness in your voice. This is the kind of poem is truth...and sometimes it's hard to write what we know. There will be no great love stories for us to write because we can only write about what we know... beautiful