Clint Frakes

Mystery Not Always Unkind

And who am I? the man sleeping at the border asks,
that in my love dream sleep I have become the guardian of the lion?

–Robert Duncan

John Berryman where did you put those translations?
It’s already November & I’ve conjured 23 oceans in my search.
I looked first under that black Minneapolis bridge,
                then wide Nebraska & its tiled stations,
                        murals of gone bison
                                        & righteous soft red wheat,
     Oklahoma draped purple in July, like the time
                 the cop let me and the yoga girl off with a warning
                   & we ambushed the Super 8 swimming pool
                 unbathed & thirsty.
Wyoming was to me just a blown PCV on hot prairie
                    & we picked sage until the cavalry came,
                                patient in our dark skin.

Farewell then and now to land speculations.
They say you cannot tear a cloud in half,
                 only stare it down until one of you breaks.
After I licked my lips in the crosswinds
              it was half a yellow moon that dried me,
      fresh out of the pool
                          under the aching unrest of spheres.

    I am not King of the Dead,
                 but rising in the ranks
                                eons behind those Jains brushing the earth
                 with sapling brooms
                              not to accrue the assassin’s weight
                                  in a step.

Something beautiful always emerges from underfoot:
                the smell of wet volcanic soil,
                                                                lean yarrow;
                 hummingbirds push on honeysuckle–
                                                        & even in Detroit
                                        hawks dive,
                                                        just like you,

John Berryman,
I can love what I can’t understand, but
                  it takes an ounce of grace & seasons more kind.
Let’s dance then & now
               even if we are poorer than we are sad
                   with fathers fallen under the plow
          & the old Appaloosa curling its lip,
                    brought kicking to the final field.

Clint Frakes currently lives in Sedona, AZ. He has recently received the James Vaughan Award for Poetry and the Peggy Ferris Memorial Award for Poetry. He received his doctorate with emphasis in Creative Writing from the University of Hawaii in 2006. He is currently working on his second full book of poetry, entitled Citizen Poems. His recent work can be found in Bamboo Ridge, Hawaii Pacific Review and Tinfish.