Coward, Liar, Thief
The reporter has been waiting for this.
The aging astronaut appearing
beneath the overhang of a government building,
stepping into the sun as though he belonged there.
The reporter’s grip tightens around his microphone
as he moves it toward the astronaut’s sad face.
His look of surprise. Say it, the other grins.
There’s nothing up there at all. You’re a coward, a liar, and a thief.
The aging astronaut is wearing his starry night necktie
when he punches the reporter in the face.
The reporter has launched back into himself
and landed in the third grade, groundscrapes
on the heels of his palms, pain-thrill bounding
through his skull like a song. The astronaut’s shadow
lengthens in the gold, hot light,
til it’s longer than all the men in the world.
You Might Be the Last Light I See
for Brian Rawlins
The night between
Amarillo and Pueblo
was thick enough to drink
so we drank it walking beams
barely pulling God knew what
from the sands, cattle bristling
in their pens crowded as Christmas
trees, fattening, blank, all of them
soon to be surprised by the axe
or the air gun depending
on the technology darkening
the slaughterhouse—each of us
faces his death alone
and if we’re lucky
we know this soon enough
to fall down with each other
even if we know how dark
it’s going to be we never
know what shade
of day awaits us.