Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Because I've been thinking about Frank Stanford again ...

The Singing Knives

The dogs woke me up
I looked out the window

Jimmy ran down the road
With the knife in his mouth
He was naked
And the moon
Was a dead man floating down the river

He jumped on the gypsy’s pony
He rode through camp
I could see the dust

There was the saddlebag full of knives
He was crazy

When Jimmy cut a throat
The eyes rolled back in the head
Like they was baptized
I tell you
When he cut a throat
It was like Abednego’s guitar
And the blood
Flew out like a quail

He had the red hand
He poked the eyes out

I dreamed I stepped over a log
And there was fire in my foot
I dreamed I saw a turkey and two wildcats
Jumped on me at the same time
I dreamed jimmy was pouring ice water
Over my head at noon
I dreamed I heard somebody
Singing in the outhouse
I dreamed the mad dog bit the Gypsy
And they tied him to a tree
I dreamed I was buried in the Indian mound
And moon lake rose up
I dreamed my father was wading the river of death
With his heart in his hand
I dreamed Jimmy rowed out the front door
With a hawk on his shoulder
And I was in the bow kneeling down
I dreamed the blacksnake rode the guitar
Down the river
I dreamed the clouds went by
The moon like dead fish
I dreamed I was dragging
A cotton sack with a dead man in it
I dreamed the fish bandits stole the hogs
Off my lines
And one of them was hunchback
I dreamed the night was a horse
With its eyes shut
I dreamed I had to fight
the good man with the bad arm
And he had the dynamite
I dreamed I trailed a buck from Panther Brake to Panther Burn
I dreamed the Chickasaw slit his throat in the papaw
I dreamed that rising sun was smoking blood
You could pick up and throw
I dreamed the Chinaman’s peg leg
I dreamed I was fishing in heaven with Sho Nuff
and Jesus cleaned the fish
I dreamed a man flies wouldn’t bite
I dreamed I was riding through Leland in a dragline bucket
And the cotton making everyday
I dreamed we got the bootlegger’s truck out of the mud
I dreamed the levee broke

I dreamed the Gypsy was laughing under the water
And the minnows were swimming though his eyes
I dreamed I reached down in Moon Lake
And untied his arms and one hand
Floated up the way it did
When he threw those knives
I dreamed the pony that fights in the water
And the boat that towed the dead man
I dreamed I felt the knife singing in Abednego’s back
I dreamed I pulled the ring out of his ear
And Jimmy put it on his finger
And swam through the water
I dreamed he was looking for Abednego’s boot
And when he came up
He had the jackknife between his teeth
I dreamed he was so beautiful
He had to die someday
I dreamed a knife like a song you can’t whistle

“Let’s go, I got to throw tonight” he says

He had the bandanna around his neck
And the pilot’s cap on
He played the harp in the moonlight

I led the horse out back
I tied him to a Chinaberry tree

“What you want” I says
But I knew he wanted me
Standing at the back of that outhouse
“Shut up” he says “don’t move”
The dirt dobbers flew around my head

He threw Boo Kay Jack at me
He threw Django at me

The mosquitoes drew blood
I looked on the ground
I saw the shadows coming like gars
swimming under me at night
I saw the red moon too
I wished I was running a trot line
I wished I was in a fight
I wished I was fanning myself in church
But there was a heart on the fan
With a switchblade through it

And the knives came by

The bone handled one
The hawk handled one
The one with a blade like a skiff
Out of his boot
Behind his back
Mexican style
The way Abednego showed him
Singing in the outhouse
Like a horse breaking wind

He took the knife and ran it
Across his arm
The he ran it across mine

Blood came out like hot soda

He tied our arms together
With the blue bandanna
And we laid down in the cotton

I wished I was riding a mule somewhere
Blowing a jug
With a string full of crappie
And the cotton making everyday

1 comment:

Nik said...

I like this poem but it's long. I do like the idea of poems being long and yet I still complain about length.
Also. Perhaps this will prompt you to post some cute pictures here.