Saturday, October 20, 2007

Roots, Part III

This is a poem by Paul Zarzyski, a cowboy poet, about Joe's last ride.


After grand entry cavalcade of flags,

Star-Spangled Banner, stagecoach figure 8's

in a jangle of singletress, after trick riders

sequined in tights, clowns in loud getups,

queens sashed pink or chartreuse

in silk-after the fanfare-the doomed

rodeo arena goes lights-out

black: stark silent

prayer for a cowboy crushed by a ton

of crossbred Brahma.

What went wrong-

too much heart behind a kick,

both horns hooking earth, the bull vaulting

a half-somersault to its back-

each witness recounts with the same

gruesome note: the wife

stunned in a bleacher seat

and pregnant with their fourth. In this dark

behind the chutes, I strain to picture,

throught the melee of win with loss,

details of a classic--body curled

fetal to the riggin', knees up,

every spur stroke in perfect sync,

chin tucked snug. In this dark,

I rub the thick neck of my bronc, his pulse

rampant in this sudden night

and lull. I know the instant

that bull's flanks tipped beyond

return, how the child inside

fought with his mother for air

and hope, his heart with hers

pumping in pandemonuim--in shock,

how she maundered in the arena

to gather her husband's bullrope and hat, bells

clanking to the murmur of the crowd

and the siren's mewl.

The child learned early

through pain the amnion could not protect him from,

through capillaries of the placenta, the sheer

peril of living with a passion

that shatters all at once

from infinitesimal fractures

in time. It's impossible, when dust

settling to the backs of large animals

makes a racket you can't think in,

impossible to conceive that pure fear,

whether measured in degrees of cold

or heat, can both freeze

and incinerate so much

in mere seconds. When I nod

and they throw this gate open to the same

gravity, the same 8 ticks

of the clock, number 244 and I

will blow for better or worse

from this chute--flesh and destiny up

for grabs, a bride's bouquet

pitched blind.

1 comment:

piper of love said...

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Keep up the good work!