Desert for All of Music to Take Place
Alice Notley

Only time in Catholic church, empty in afternoon
There was a red-rhinestone light
Well that was once.

Often are shacks with silver windmill & salty trees
Or the one inhabitant of Arrowhead Junction
Renowned for the filth of his person
& of establishment where brown boards fall down.
When I grow up to be him
I'll feel a little funny.

Trucks & trains go east in 4 AM sounds & river air
Also therein cars of wildness go apart from me
He has green eyes
The movies give full love
Comparable to nothing else ever to be
And I know that

Flies wings airy hands
Does somebody grow up did a man child die live
He will inhabit America & his body forever
His eyes are blue
He's the guy who calls up every day just to
Tell you it's raining.

He's disinterested in music and's
The only one who knows how to whistle

Gas station attendants stay up all glamorous night
Red horses dawning air
Mountains shrink closer up you get
Monuments & landmarks being large deformed rocks
He wants to speak educated as a matter of courtesy & in
Assertion of superior breeding of sons of poor widow-women
I could become awhile too stupid to love a person for that
He has brown eyes with light coming through, his sorrow center
Seems above them mid-forehead.
Am I just an occupant?
I dwell in air, I take up air, I hold possession of my air
Am an accuracy but whose, or rather what's?

Everyone drives off.
The library's upstairs from
The jail guys flirt through the bars of
With a fat, dusty girl.
I consider flirting with them too they
Seem to have vast appreciative powers
There being nothing else at the moment for them to have,
But I go on upstairs. Strangely,
Gas station attendants stay up all night.

Boys gas station guys
Unrequited loves objects undead
I'll always still wish they would love me
Yellow mesquite flowers they praises appear, or
I love the landscape because I love these guys
& also the movies. This big
Desert landscape flowering guys movies feeling
Is love, every one & kind at once.

Here's a dark in bed song:

Tarantulas & black widows & all kinds of spiders
They bite & crawl around your room
They're very poisonous
You'll get it when you know you get it right now
I think I'll sing the whole song
Love is all you need when you're getting in love when
It's time to
So when you get around love it gives you a hand
For time's running out
You'll get what you trout
Time & love in space is the end of this song.

They say my cousin Mike has a tender heart.

* * *

How come Mohave men & women
Are used to each other getting fat?
It's part of how they are
It's part of how they're big
Big faces & features hair where each hair is a feature
Their feelings would be shapes big solid shapes things
That might be held up in two hands
The "white" Indian woman's blue tattoos about her mouth
They have a Cry House that burned down & all the dogs.
An other-world Navajo couple pass through town
All in conchos & velvets & hairdos
Maybe they're going to go into,
Where so many mysteries go on,
That green-painted-glass front walls lace
Named so funnily, in red letters, SNOOKER BILLIARDS.

I'm accurate diamond white hollowness
An aching for something to be true that won't quite come through
To being an ultimate holding or knowing
Of a mountain or a gas station or a love moment
Through that hollow of one's does blow the best blue wind
Underivative, unworshipable.

Or am I an impostor?

The important erotic events of my time transpire tonight
At green-black watered-moon river's side
Whether inside or outside of cars.
Desert verbena momentarily purples dust,
Yucca blossoms a second's cream in the year car goes past.
Herman, the official town crazy man:
Somebody goes to his funeral.
I guess I've been in hopeless love with every man in town
Since I was 4.
His mistress ties her hair back with a purple ribbon
But his dead wife had a pince-nez & a pilot's license
Rivers mountain sky
Endless cross-ties & poles & stars
If you peel off another layer of air & another
Your eyes still can't possess these things
Yet they're so clear, but in so much space, which is air
I say "I can see air!" She says No you can't
I tell her it's all these little dots, dots of air.
Air has to be seeable I'm sure it is
& how can the surface of silence, the sky, be a color--blue?
& how can all the secrets be in something that's a color?

I'm not one of the 15 towheaded Walters kids meant
For their kind of trouble, not
One of the 5 or 6 Wheeler kids meant for their
Kind of trouble, nor a Mejia, nor one of the several Garcias
Whose lot is a little more tragic, for everyone to marvel at
At dramatic Mexican funerals--
I'm one of the several Notley kids destined for their kind of.

There's one I never tell anyone hardly even myself that
I have a crush on,
Because he's the creature most like myself, thus
No consummation imaginable
I just love him for years every day.

But I know I'll always be this me now,
& it's almost only air,
& other me's horizontal layers of air
On the one flat detail of the original, almost only air me.
No, no that's not it. They'll tell me about it in time.
Hah, they will?
            I'm a wide dust earth &
Mountains & river & a sky of blue that gives back nothing.
To me that's not to be strong, but to be just that.
Is anyone else in America that?
Is everyone?
Fill it with loves & movies & take it by car,
But only at night in playing-at-romantic river time.
The daytime blue sky gives back nothing.
I reflect the nothing time,
& love the romantic time too
At which I'm not just peeking
At which I'm singing love with you.
The lovers in cars aren't movie stars, and
They're so tacky. Or maybe,
They're not love, & there's no love, except
There's a big, big shape like a feeling
You can hold it up in your two hands, practically
And present it to the sky.

(Alice Notley is the author of twenty-five books of poetry, including Mysteries of Small Houses, a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in 1998 and winner of The Los Angeles Times Book Prize for poetry that year. Her latest, Disobedience (Penguin, 2001), is a book-length poem which was the focus of her uproarious reading in New York on November 12. [See Event Reviews.] Originally from Needles, California, she lives in Paris.)

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