Christien Gholson  | The Sixth Sense
For Joe Strummer, Caetano Veloso, Bruce Cockburn,
Song, as you have taught it, is not desire,
Sonnets to Orpheus
Christien Gholsons poems and stories have appeared in Hanging Loose, Blue Mesa Review, ACM, Alaska Quarterly Review, Lilliput Review, Big Bridge, The Sun, etc. A book of linked prose-poems is forthcoming from Hanging Loose Press in 2006. He lives in New Mexico.
Your voice. I want to hear your voice. I have been singing for years. Now, suddenly, I want to learn how to sing. To bring in the crows, the black laugh that almost fills the hole; a back dock, pallets of boxes; finger to finger when a bus transfer is passed off to a complete stranger; sun and winter dust against glass, an opaque mirror; Indonesian prisons inside computers inside webs of economic-thought inside boxes on a dock. Can you hear it? March snow, sparse, flying horizontal, because the crows have channeled the wind. Wake up! Someone has their hands on your throat.
A deep sea fish floats inside the well of the larynx, antennae illuminating ochre claw prints, raised arms, wind- lions whispering into dancing skeletons, flowering erections, the soft dune of a womans thigh bleeding horses, bulldozer tires curled into black-tailed snakes, depleted uranium shells scattered across a desert, tarsiers leaping a flood, all painted onto a circle of wet flesh, distorted by the reflection of resonating waves from the slow spiral of the anglerfish, waiting for someone to imagine it. To sing it. To sing what is already there.
Men and women of The Commune chased into Pere Lachaise, lined against the wall and shot. Their songs dismantled by dredge-shovels cutting canals across France, Indonesia, Panama. Bodies dumped into a mass grave. The Berlin wall dismantled the same way Ford, Firestone & Shell dismantled the U.S. public transportation system. No song left but the song of the endless highway. A broken machete, a manila envelope, on the roads shoulder. Severed ears cant hear the few feathers still clinging to a bird skeleton tangled in fence-wire, flapping in the wind.
What if the birds picked up and left during the night? And tomorrow found us with nothing but ourselves, nothing but running engines, nothing but a constant bass-line, nothing but the same mind isolated behind glass, nothing but the same mind isolated behind glass. What if the birds disappeared, went down to sing for our ancestors, whose ears havent heard anything but titanium slipping into a bottomless well for hundreds of years. Trapped. Would anyone realize? To open the mouth and begin.
Receive the kiss with an open mouth. The wind does this every day. Breathe the black smoke. She is burning. Lit herself on fire with gasoline imported from Venezuela. Her body, your body. The knife. Her body, your body. The sea. Her body, your body. The knot. Receive the kiss with an open mouth. Breathe in that horrible desire for freedom scorching black the angels that always appear out of the smoke to guide us into heaven.
A wind across the canyon takes your voice. You become wind through juniper, a flash on the horizon. Lightning that pulls at the iris, pulls rolling thunder from falling bombs (all the children gone deaf). A miner kept awake in his cell for five days, sinking into the aquifer of screams, percolating up from Sand Creek. Coyote dust on a straight road after the lightning. Throw your guitar over the edge. Wait. Wait for your voice. After the lightning, a purple iris breaks through the earth.
Flag-rope against a frozen flagpole. The sting of loneliness for whats never done or seen. A rhythm bringing the black sun from beneath ice into being. A rhythm to pull the beast from the sea. A rhythm of cairns on the cliffs edge covered with snow. Wind-worn hands placing stones one on top of the other. A rhythm of black space between stones that begin to sing. When the wind stops, black feathers beat the air.
Men on the corner under streetlight, handing out the new testament; singing to the unnamed beyond the light. The unnamed crawl in and out of invisible doors behind the beautiful King James script. Unnamed boys strike poses, wait for the right car. They will sing any song you want. All the unnamed stars dip in and out of reality, refusing to call out the true name of The End. Quick, hide under the bed. Was there a childhood song that kept the dark at arms length?
And the girls on TV, the girls in the contest, the girls who want to be stars, singing the way they were taught to sing by the ones who were taught to sing by the ones who feed the furnace that corrugates tin. Chickens scatter in the wake of a Humvee. Boys in the backseat hold AK-47s. Hinge of a swinging door in the wind. The girls on TV, forgotten before they even open their mouths to sing.
Junked cars on a plain. Time, strung with flags, ragged from blowing sand. Empty shells gleam gold in the sun. I cant remember if this is the beginning of the song or the end. I pick up a shell, blow across the dark mouth that once housed the bullet. The woman, cursed to moan over the mouth of an empty bottle left in the desert, rises from the scorched shells mouth. Bottles, shells, a trail for someone to find their way.
The sway of sea-grass; the Venusian gesture of a praying mantis, turning swollen eyes; snow become too heavy, sliding into the sky; sun through waves resonating off rock; green lichen drawing circles on pelvic stone; a saxophone in the dark, behind a black gas station: Song like coal rubbed beneath the eyes to keep out the glare of fire reflected off steel. Everything is falling like water from the black mouth of a deer, lifting its head to listen.
Running past burning cars. Two bodies, naked, dart dumpster to dumpster. Sonar from the forehead, searches back alleys, broken windows. Chorus of albacore somewhere out there, calling back. Revolution in a dream, seen from above, through bomb bay doors. A looter pushes a piano through oily water. Mouth made from the center of a spinning flame. Two bodies, naked, swim through.
Satellites orbit a continual falling in. A line of light, thin as a tracer. Were burning pieces of an old fence all night to keep warm. And the same satellite every hour, on the hour, above, seen through clouds of breath: Spirit incarnate. Everything breathes. Words are breath and flesh. Orion at my feet, reflected in ice. High, painful notes (but still within reach). Singing is the sixth sense.