Maghreb Falls At Inspiration Point in the San Bernadino Mountains

Night comes quick in the mountains.
A hawk settles near the top of a pine;
a mine owner clutches a gold-clawed cane
beyond these darkening gorges where L.A. shines like Dresden.
I recall my friend Eli telling me about the man he met
who every dawn for fifty years
has fed the pigeons at Al-Aqsa.
Or the Dome of the Rock.
Or the Temple Mount.
Do the birds care what it’s called? he had asked.
In the gathering dark I reach down to touch
moss lying between tree roots like a pubis mons.
Echoes fade into violet,
darting through the space yet unsullied by 5G’s quicksilver jizz.
I have watched for years the lake hidden
inside my mouth thaw and freeze,
thaw and freeze, but still, no word from the geese,
nor that one swan,
on when you might be coming back.
Strategic English, pre-emptive English —
who armed you like a warhead,
blasting your words from their meanings,
like a family searching for each other
in the rubble after a bombing?
I can sing no longer with this mangled tongue,
so I will thunder, like the missles roaring over Gaza,
while Michigan snow piles up like the death toll,
each flake unique like a person,
unremarkable, anonymous, until you look up close.
The same tyrants who scan the needles of these Ponderosa pines,
not as living marvels,
but to endow their arsenal with sharper points,
are also those who, in their programming language,
assign a zero value to the lover
while David goes out to gather slingstones.
They issue a proclamation that your smile is verboten to me,
as the petals trapped in the rockets bloom over the cities,
anemones sifting the charred screams for
the titles that Central Command promised
for scratching We the People on the tip of
every condom passing through customs. 
They declare that our love has caused this war —
that if we would just surrender the last stronghold
of our embrace,
their conquest of silicone and plasma would be supreme,
where every second-on-the-second
a bell will chime inside the skulls
announcing the ascension of The Liar,
with one eye like a rotten grape,
who leers and then yanks the filament spun
from stale babka and spider tears that lashes together
the left nipples of each person marked for the distillery furnace,
whose smokestack is Big Ben,
and whose ash-pan is the White House.
And those lamprey zealots and dog-piss liars
issue a warrant for the satin verb of your voice
while data entry clerks lilt over the freshly-minted orphans.
Tattoo guns are juiced with with cortisol.
Date-rape pills are spring-loaded into
the eye-sockets of Barbies scheduled for export.
And now the baseball-cap legions strap on
their tactical denial,
fulfilling their weekly quotas for truck-loads of kneecaps
to keep current on their streaming cue, and to ensure
that the sarcophagus is kept warm for Natalie Portman
right beside Pharoah’s own.
Tendons freed from their bonds wave in the breeze
as the patriotic dust christens the liberated entrails
and limbs come loose as easily as the plastic strip
from the cigarette pack in the corporal’s pocket
rubbing against the photo of his neighbor’s wife’s shitzu.
And they jeer at our love demanding to know its lineage.
They haul out their tomes wrapped in Daniel Boone’s pantyhose,
inscribed with Guinivere’s hieroglyphs,
and begin to incant the ritual of the fallen lexicographer,
decapitating conjugations with shards of broken mirrors.
But though they try to corral us in their razor wire,
wall us in their cinder block,
where Saladin served King Richard snow from the mountains,
we will go on raising our kisses,
flags waving on the fortress of our love.
I resist, committed to the non-violent uprising of your pure shoulder
blade, your waist like a storm.
The citizens chant your name
in the slums and cities of my blood. Your name,
that the wind is still trying to work out in the leaves.
Yes, your name: carried along the streets and interstates,
championed in the rest stops and the verdant fields,
finding its way even to the tapering backroads
that wend through the hamlets
whose namesakes haunt the cafe alleys
where crickets blink in the neon light
trying to rise from the creosotey darkness like a prayer.
Oh, empty propane tanks and rusty shopping carts!
What have you done to my brothers and sisters?
Oh, click-bait bigots and word-hijackers,
give me back my aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews
dazed and gasping in the blast radius.
While you fine me for breathing you bank billions a minute,
whining in that sly passive voice
that “you were co-erced.”  Still,
I know it was The Whisperer who implanted
the velvet thorn behind your glottis
so that we no longer “fire” someone, we “sunset” them.
Tariffs, sanctions, cease-fires?
This fire may only be extinguished by the oceans
of the last place we have thus far refused to look,
familiar as the ghost of childhood,
an echo of diamond — like the light perched
on the almond tree that morning outside the hotel in Burbank:
we’d come down in the night from the mountains,
turning away from the Pear Blossom Highway,
and hanging a left over a creek onto Devil’s Punchbowl Road.
Careening down switchbacks, watching for deer,
or worse, we leveled out suddenly
as lights kindled here and there,
campfires on the plain of Marathon
in my boyhood book on historic battles.
As I lay in the antiseptic sheets
with Arab music bumping in the bar below
I felt my body flying still through the tangled darkness.
Later, when I shuffled out to the car for ear plugs, I heard
the concierge reply to the night guard that’s demonic!
as if that were something cool.




Thor Bacon






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