Hills -- after Apollinaire
And then I became a man, and acted like one.
I followed his trail to the city to find or buy love
somewhere in the music that boomed
from the stacks of steamboats
broken on the Mississippi’s filthy shore.
I crossed over one night and came back
married to my own desires, which meant
I’d found the strip clubs and drank all night.
Someone called out the river’s depth
as I passed over, and it began to rain.
The city tucked itself under its wing.
A barge dredged for constellations
in the water, and the youthful deities
of wine and dance got covered in it,
plastered in river sludge from head to foot.
I got into my car and turned away
from the sunrise toward the hills and ruins
of a speakeasy. Nothing left but a stone chimney.
Castlewood, Missouri. Al Capone sought refuge
when he was this way, heading for those
always distant hills, and soon the time came
when even I had to pull over and shake
the stink of stripper from my jacket.
I felt like a big Italian woman. My great great
grandmother beating Sienna from her rugs
till its dust swelled in her lungs and she tasted
all the misfortune and suffering to come.
Even my death hovered in her sloppy arm
before it swooped and landed another blow.
Her veins, which were bluer than any river,
became a river worth living next to. That woman
never felt useless or outmoded a day in her life.
One morning, I went to grab the paper and minister Perry
was waiting outside chanting snakes. He lured me
to a fishing boat and set me into the river.