For Francis, On His Departure

We woke on the banks
of the bleeding Mississippi
to the snore call
and screech of
a teetering locomotive.

Blear eyed and hungover like old poets,
wily prophets, we thought the same thoughts
of morning paralysis
against the beauty come in dawn.

We’d left our ancestors,
slimy, stuck to our heels:
sucking noise, oil spills,
smoke smells in a bar,

taking sinking old Chartres before it’s a park

and that look as you pass in the dark.

Nowhere else.

In the West the sun melts into the water
and traffic music matters more.

Experience hills with wonder,
(they would do the same for you,
if they had the chance)

but don’t be afraid to corner the beasts you need:
their pelts and frozen growls
are proof of daring deeds–

that they die for you to feed–

as you one day will bleed
between boots and Mississippi.

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