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This morning     the bruxism     from the night before     deep in the jawbone        and two crows circle over hairy yuccas          caw and caw long high and gravel-gulleted      at the periphery of the wash      you are in their dominion           within reach of the moment their circling sinks       to settle behind ridge        and yuccas:        deck is anathema to the flat extended promise of a view:

crows      another arroyo morning      spelling out      a message      of black licorice      and when they warm in the sun      in the concise cottonwood         cottonwood  finally  yellow  for  a  week  until  leaf-dropped       they all seem enervated in their clarity
but crows are not beckoned here     only to have their black-smudge forms negated into a wildness       only for you to empty them of
their signification

(for your sake crows own your signifying of crows)

and two crows were too costly of a negation anyway        when they have banked and kept secrets of space and caws:   has it been cause all this time?   or cuz          when I sound most like my self in the
wreath of them
you remember your friend’s jaw replaced with the bone of his leg
the idea of cancer and cause     no—     bank     turn

when you walk to the spot beneath crow-orbit and crow-regress
take nine arbitrary pictures          nine chance captures          of sky and
crowblur       as histamines raise to the pricks of the chollas

Under this new incandescence       in the glow-hot ignition of a filament    back at the deck    a core thrums with the yes of yes    you can speak of crows    or of sparrows that empty the feeder daily       it spins in the wind     with the no of no-more    you sip iced sencha   it is grassy and lucent and comes with rot

They sit in the soap tree in the canyon
These visitants drink from the head of a busted sprinkler   you are vote-splitting       today and the present tense were what made the poem meditation    tomorrow and the past tense made it story    the arc of experience    a scene in your development    a scene of the edging assent of occupants for others     in their loops of contracted landscaping    this real estate     carved into the bowl of up-forking arroyos     the windows and decks framing sedimentary mountains of an ancient lateral folding and orogeny    in the semantics of less is more     hearing others is impossible     your loathing for each other is possibly also love     but you’re stuffed     you’re full     you thought that the crows’ caws would be sustained just for you and that nothing else could stay or be found but in you but over time the clear thin caws  of  the  crows  deform  the  new  near-language  you  dream  of  as if these gliders were awaiting their dinner too       drawing a pure box around you     keeping the cosmos out    the chaos out    except when you awaken and figments end      yet you do not end      you begin again     you are behind     or closing a distance     as crows bleed immeasurable dark matter      black blades radiating into soft whats



Waking to this hybridity      snake-bird
the high elongated rasp 
shallowing out and weighing down 

the despair in our own unrealized betweenness—

how to speak through the divide we’ve made?
“On first seeing them” 

an origin story
the god-hand 

dropped a snake’s skin to the earth—
a gift for the orders of the kingdom? 

to give to steal—

so they should thrive in elongated occupation 
of the mangroves—
and submerge—
and fly.


See the axe man among dream birds—
released into a tiny beginning as an expelled seed

—in the pure middle without margins—
in a gap—

where the salt-light planed into an x on their necks.
He was chopping.

This dull hacking 

of necks from bodies 
became heads and necks 
that are total spectral bodies—

and was a crying revenant washed out into our
      human overwhelm and mire

and was augmented through old exits 

      from this world—



arroyo narrowed with talus
Braided arroyo
the idea of ‘freedom’:
imagining a thing (a being) as free can be nothing but simply
imagining it while we are ignorant of the causes
by which it has been determined to act

a corporation is an individual

there are bacteria with hairlike structures, pilli, that extend
from the cell surface to scavenge the broken genomes cast
loose by the death or breakdown of other microbes

collecting this gene stuff
onto their own surfaces    to hide behind the remains
of citizen bacteria    safe from the host’s defenses

as we step into the protest
to kluge?

changing less standing into less standing around

to still feel the same as before:     singular
                                    but to feel newly, self-consciously:

somewhere                        is                    difference

             here                        the
between                                  and                               

                  exchange                      there            also
astonishing                                  of                                                                   

                 and                                 is
the                                          chance     

community                              of                          all         
different                                                 we                                                       

                                                out                                    intersection
               the                                                            ways    
yet middle ground

may be encounter and
not exchange

looking only to speak
to those who speak
                      the same


Richard Greenfield is the author of SubterraneanTracer (both Omnidawn), and A Carnage in the Lovetrees (University of California Press). Poems have been anthologized in The Arcadia Project: North American Postmodern Pastoral (Ahsahta Books) and most recently in Privacy Policy: The Anthology of Surveillance Poetics (Black Ocean). Recent work has been published or is forthcoming in Lana Turner: A Journal of Poetry and OpinionOversound, The Minnesota Review, and Zócalo Public Square. He teaches in the MFA program at New Mexico State University, lives in El Paso, Texas, and co-edits Apostrophe Books.