Christien Gholson


How things were put into shadow and brought to light
(Protest march in Denver on the 2nd anniversary of "the war against terror")

It's a perfect day.  Clear sky.
Coal trains move through the mountains to the west.
An Air Force jet trail dissolves above the capital's gold dome.
The sun is a furious bird.

So many shining cars pass the anti-war signs.
When a car honks in support, a friend screams "Park your car!"
He has only a few seconds to explain all of history.
The sun shakes itself free of its mother's leather wings.

No one's inside the capitol.  The governor's
up in the mountains.  He casts his line.
Concentric circles ripple through the jet trail.
The sun opens its mouth, a tongue of flame against dry lips.

We march down Market:  Black kids raise their fists, shouting
"Fuck Bush!"  White families shake their heads.
The sun flies from the mouth of a drunk vet:
"I've been to war! What do you know about war?"

I want to tell him the sun is a lover, a steel girder, a Hollywood movie
starring the first atomic bomb; that it never stops burning eyes
into the open face of water; that it never stops churning language
back into blood for all of us to drink; that it eats time

(that strange soft tissue); that water only throws it into relief.
We shout in front of the Halliburton offices. No one's inside.
The sun ignites the back of a trout, then leaps into the face of a clown
smearing red paint across the glass office doors.

Everything is happening at once.  The sun is a furious bird,
devouring the world.  The lone security guard
rushes off to call his superiors.  And we run,




History Dissolves Into

                                                                                         (edge of the Green River Canyon, Utah)

Standing at the edge of the mesa - a wind,
a room full of watches.
Pick a silver one off a piano bench,
open it:
             The Green River Canyon, the slow change
             of tricklight off cliff walls.
             Bone-blue to salt to bronze-gone-statue-green
             falling into ochre lips.
             The shock of a red sarong kiss
             tasting of accidental blood on fossil-dune sheets.

             Look down: My boot prints in red dust,
             same as the ones on the moon.
             Take a picture of the imprint
                                                               for proof
             (but when I get the photos back in two weeks
             I will stand on a street corner
             shuffling quick through pictures
                              of a Vietnamese monk on fire).

Someone is building a granary with stacked stones out there
(1,000 years ago, 1,000 years from now).
Fingers curled around stone are the hours;
the gristle-sound of dust crushed between stones,
                                                               the tag-a-long minutes.

The salt hips of the few clouds have gone iris-mad,
their curves red as a burnt lobster.
A raised claw bears the likeness of Andromeda.


But keep yes and no unsplit"

                                                                                                                             Paul Celan

Do you see what's hanging on the wire. A black plastic strip. Wind-ragged.

Pumpkins. There's a cobbled orange road rising from beneath a foot high canopy of green leaf. All the way to the next wire.

And beyond that, cars and trucks on a straight road through plowed fields. Night drives past Day. They do not recognize each other. The Moon drives past the Sun. No one waves.

Dust rises off a field. The column twists. Funnel-spirits of the dry plowed earth. They are searching for the reflection of the water-skate's body in black water; for the bluish-green phosphor lamp of marsh light; for the salamander dangling, suspended, between surface and mud floor in a cold pool.

When a door opens between worlds, the skin on the back of the neck becomes thin,
lets in the wind. When lines become liquid, the hand inside the pumpkin knocks back. When rain becomes a burning bush, the mouth that was taught "yes" and "no" dissolves.

But there's no rain here.

The black plastic strip twists this way, that. A struggling Houdini.

When I was a child, I was smoke, could slip through keyholes.

                                                                                          Halloween, Sacramento 2002