Poem for Mexico

What says Quetzalcoatl,
scales of monstrous feather,
turquoise, green, and gaudy gold,
whip of a body, tongue of purple flame?

He saw Huitzilopochtli when the winters came,
the closing night, the sun-dimmed altar,
tearing the heart of Copil,
all to no avail.

He sees the rabbit with the jaguar’s wound,
the serpent tooth that carries the salve,
a strange pyramid of human waste,
and yet a pyramid.

“Scatter the ashes,” says
Quetzalcoatl, scales of monstrous
feather, turquoise, green, and gaudy
gold, whip of a body, tongue of purple flame.

“The fire burns fierce in the heart of man.
And woman too. Lick the flame
and wish for the best,”
says the dios.

“Expect nothing,” says Quetzalcoatl,
scales of monstrous feather
to the wind.

(Gary Gautier)

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Adam and Eve on Delacroix Island

Biting fleas, picking pecans, their voices
touched and words hung like crystals
glistening through the horizon line
dreaming the smell of wet earth

From Year of the Butterfly
by Gary Gautier

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Two on hummingbirds

Humming-bird (D. H. Lawrence)

I can imagine, in some otherworld
Primeval-dumb, far back
In that most awful stillness, that gasped and hummed,
Humming-birds raced down the avenues.

Before anything had a soul,
While life was a heave of matter, half inanimate,
This little bit chipped off in brilliance
And went whizzing through the slow, vast, succulent stems.

I believe there were no flowers then,
In the world where humming-birds flashed ahead of creation
I believe he pierced the slow vegetable veins with his long beak.

Probably he was big
As mosses, and little lizards, they say, were once big.
Probably he was a jabbing, terrifying monster.

We look at him through the wrong end of the telescope of time,
Luckily for us.

 

A Route of Evanescence (Emily Dickinson)

A Route of Evanescence,
With a revolving Wheel –
A Resonance of Emerald
A Rush of Cochineal –
And every Blossom on the Bush
Adjusts its tumbled Head –
The Mail from Tunis – probably,
An easy Morning’s Ride –

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Stuck for Christmas

How about giving a book signed by the author? ♥

(Click covers to view online; email drggautier@gmail.com to order signed copies. If you see something you like, order now. Limited number of signed copies in stock.)

Hippies
Audience: Adult Readers
Book price: $11 (see shipping cost below)

Late 1960s. A beautiful naive idealism. Blasted by the Establishment. Torn by its own contradictions. Jazmine, Ziggy, Ragman, and a coterie of hippies run loose and free until they discover an LSD-spinoff drug that triggers past life regressions and sweeps them toward a dramatic climax. This epic tale of hippiedom is intimate in the lives of its characters but panoramic in its coverage of the sights, sounds, and ideals of the Age of Aquarius.

 

Spaghetti and Peas
Audience: Ages 2-8
Book price: $14 (see shipping cost below)

What would you do if you saw a snake in the lettuce? Rachael had to figure that out fast. And she found a magical adventure in her own back yard, within smelling distance of the spaghetti sauce her dad was cooking on the stove. Enjoy this zany, richly illustrated, hardbound picture book as a read-aloud or early reader.

 

 

Mr. Robert’s Bones
Audience: Ages 14-99
Book price: $9 (see shipping cost below)

In a neighborhood full of quirky characters, three kids’ search for hidden silver in an abandoned house pits them against forgotten ghosts and the house’s dark memories of racism and betrayal. The quest for the silver is especially nerve-racking for Annie, the kid who actually sees the ghosts. Her friends want to believe her but can’t, and she herself is torn between running away from it all and following the ghosts into the house’s dark history.

 

Year of the Butterfly  
Audience: Poetry, General
Book cost: $6 (see shipping cost below)

One year, four seasons, an archetypal journey, a poetic landscape rich in the flora and fauna of intimate human connection, joyous and sad. The poems in this 42-page chapbook are mostly short and pithy, formally sculpted, but each is packed with concept and image, and together they build up an unforgettable sense of how much life can be lived in a year and how quickly that year can slip away.

Shipping (USA):
First book                                            $3.50
Second book in same shipment          $2.00
Additional books in same shipment    $1.00

The First Ring

Washington, DC
The Mall
5 pm

We jump almost falling
from the cab in the snow
near the Lincoln Memorial.
It is winter. The sun will set
early. This means something
though we don’t yet know what

that something is.

Snow falls gently powdering
your body, the hat blue,
hair of spice and silk,

such stuff as dreams are made on.
One step north into the presence
of the Korean War Memorial.

Something about the eyes of a statue.
“Death,” you say, and I dream back
to yesterday when our eyes met

over champagne and oatmeal stout.
You had bought me dinner
and I wanted to kiss you

but I didn’t.

The sun begins to set but stops
behind Lincoln. We step west
and the building glows
in the sun and snow
falling gently.

You stand in front of the statue.
The glow fills in the building
and then you are the glow.

Suddenly I see with the eyes of the statue.
Your fingers move and the movement
ruffles the centuries of human history.

The centuries are not lost to the past.
They are all here at this moment
as all the rings of a tree are here,

hidden until the tree falls
but present all the while.

Indeed, the rings are the tree.

I can feel the monuments behind me crumbling
backward in time, or rather inward
until there is nothing
but the first ring.

“Let it be there,” I say,
“in the first ring that we meet.”

Then I see you, in the first ring,
Emerging as great constellations emerge,
In splendid and cosmic and physical aspect.

“So this is what it is like,” I say,
“The first ring.” But here we cannot meet.
Something. Something falling. It is we who fall.

You touch my cheek and I plummet
through the rings of time, eyes watching,
something falling, but there is no philosophy
in your hand. It is just a hand and has the contour
and human warmth of a hand. For that I am grateful.

The reflecting pool is frozen, bends eastward
a path of clear ice. We can walk on it.
Though I am a stranger and you
a familiar of this place, you
have never walked on
the reflecting pool.

You fall, we laugh, I dust
the snow from your coat.

Tomorrow you would nap while I walked
to 14th and U Street. Something dark
was playing at the Lincoln Theater.
I would pick up food to go
so we could stay in.

We climb from reflecting pool to the western
edge of the Washington Monument, now
see the White House, Jefferson, Lincoln,
and the great dome of the Capitol.

Our vantage must break some transcendent
covenant, the sky shatters, and we rush
beneath the fractured constellations
to the obelisk. Thickening bands
of snow slice into us as we
stretch against the white
stone of the monument.

Last night, before the snow, before the eyes,
the glow, something falling, we saw
The Tempest on Church Street
near Dupont Circle.

I think of us now, alone, adrift
in our snow globe blizzard,
and of Prospero.

A liminal moment. Now all my charms
are o’erthrown, and what strength
I have’s my own, which
is most faint.

A serious hug to bind us against the elements.
Then we step away from the stone blinded
by sky and snow and icy wind, lost
for a moment as if in the Rockies,
where we lived long ago.

The snow ruptures and a jogger comes through.
We follow his footprints north to 15th Street.
Walking, laughing, I take a picture of you
in a halo of powdered sugar.

Would that it were a brave new world.

In the corner bar
of the Old Ebbit Grill I press
my cheek, hot and flushed, against
your cold cheek. A touch removed from
from the causal nexus, from beginnings and ends

motives and goals, a touch
not of friends, not of lovers,
clumsy categories we invent
for convenience. In the first ring
each relationship has its own interface.

Oh if only the language had enough words
would each instance of human contact
have its own name. But in our frailty

we must be friends, lovers, abstractions
without a proper name, only a simple truth:
human touch is the most powerful form of yoga.

I had come two days before
and we stayed up all night. I rubbed
your feet and tried to clear knots by opening
a pathway from your upper back through the arms

and out of the hands and fingers. The movement
across the curve of the neck and the hollow
before the shoulder left an impression
of delicate bones under soft skin, but
also of strong muscles. There was
no nonsense in the muscles.

Now I see the airport blue lights.
I am not sad when we hug at the gate.
But I am suddenly sad a moment later when
you are gone and the eye no longer meets eye,
the touch a ring receding into the core.
It is not we who are falling. It is I.
Imagination transforms reality
but does not break the fall.

(A version of this poem was published in Solid Quarter, Issue 3)