Shift over, turning out of the country club drive,
you spot an owl stretched across a bleary moon,
starred sky his flowering trellis, perched upon
to scour desert canvas for cottontail rabbits
and kangaroo rats. You traverse drought’s thirst
on a wavering river, one drunk eye shut.
Pouring for retirees, you whip tall cocktails
stiff enough to keep them coming back;
your customers tonight wove this shattered road
before you when last call scattered them like bats.
You’ve been pilfering shots with the cook again
all afternoon well into evening’s blur. Sedan dipping
into an arroyo you remember when the streets of Ajo
flooded and your father urged you in with a laugh,
beer on his breath a nectar sucked from the can in his hand.
The water took your balance and then your shoes
more ferocious than your buzz tonight,
salted tequila splitting every Palo Verde in two.
You were once the green tree lightning split,
earning every scar. That was in Ajo’s heyday
before coyote packs replaced the rumbling pick ups
and smoking cars. Those days you ran with miners’ children
instead of their ghosts, your nose pressed in a book
instead of a bottle, dreaming up stories of witches,
werewolves, and poisonous gas. Over the precipice of narrative
you’re still falling, tumbling through poetry’s remains,
dangling off this town’s haunted lip.
Your drowning feet fan a mysterious current –
you don’t know where or how to land. In the trailer
where you’re staying, your grandmother’s sleep is a deep well
into which dreams drop like disappearing stones.
Nightlights halo hallways dim.
You swore you’d never be like him
and yet here you are, one eye shut
to the wretch you’ve become,
the other boozy enough to turn you twins.
Your worn tires rumble as another saguaro then
another mile passes on the lightless road home.
Jeremy Spears’s poems have appeared in such publications as the Green Mountains Review, the Illinois Review, Flyway and Wordgathering. He is a recipient of the David Lindahl Prize from the JWR, a finalist in this year’s Tucson Festival of the Book Poetry Competition and a participant in the 2016 Aspen Summer Words Juried Workshop. He lives in Phoenix, Arizona.