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Christopher Dow

Abandoned Ruins

In the hour of our loneliness

We lie on beds of fire.

The sun sears our flesh

As red as the bloody-headed vulture

Waiting in the deadness

Of a stripped and withered

Willow in desert ruins.

Crumbling adobe blocks

Litter the clay foundations

With their shattered forms.

Once a town lived here

On the banks of this dried stream—

Willows shaded, fields flowered

Where now the baked lizard scuttles,

Where the wild and distant burro

Brazens the heated earth

In his aimless wanderings.


In the hour of our loneliness

We lie on beds of stone.

The moon hisses through empty windows,

Whispers vision to a white seduction

As bleached as the sand

On the banks of the turquoise pool,

The last of the stream

Of the life of this ruined hamlet.

Sagebrush strokes purple

Against the still pallor,

Calling for calm thought

On this verge of desert emptiness.

The breathless air

Winds the sound of legions

Of sand grating on sand,

Drowning the ruins in dry humor,

Grinding them inevitably down

To more of the same.


In the hour of our loneliness

We rise from beds of mystery

And seek the desert horizon,

Our emptiness burned, bleached,

Then ground by waves of sand

To the fine edge of here and gone.

City of Dreams

City of dreams

And tyrolean power—

Some day here

Space shuttles will

Surge to the sky

On flaming vapor trails,

Push upward

Until all that’s left

Is another star.

Rockets are so like

The Tower of Babel,

Bringing men together

As they reach for the heavens

In the language of science

And scattering them like stars.


Out on the prairie,

From a particular spot,

You can see

The seven skylines,

And the buildings

Rise like rockets

Of steel and mirror glass.

This is Space City,

Here on the prairie,

Though the structures’ base

Belies their space shapes.

Who wants to journey

Into the void with me?

Let’s take the shuttle

Bus downtown and look

At the rocket fields.

Let’s go inside

And wander through

Miniature universes

Of the social cosmos.

You can walk miles

Through blocks of buildings

And never feel a breath

Of fresh air on your face.

The mirror glass

Has exposed elevators.

If you stand close

Inside the elevator glass

You take off.

And if you stand close

Inside the mirror walls

You’re walking on air

Above the street.

If acrophobia possessed you

You’d fall right through the mirrors,

Plunge to the street below,

To be forgotten

As a breath of wind.


Fall Flies

Black speck on the wall—

Closer—Fly. Fat fly.

Buzz from the left, at the window

To sunlight and green early fall.

Three fat early fall flies.

With no malice, I

Shake a finger in the air

One inch over the wall-bound one.

Don’t fly, I say in my mind. Just

Let me shake my finger at you.

It does not fly. I shake.

I turn to those others,

Silhouetted against nature,

All fat and easy to squash.

One crouches, the next buzzes

A bit in the air, the third

Walks up the left window molding,

Buzzing, under a shimmering thread.

Another thread. Another. Spiderweb.

My eyes range up past the crawling fly,

To the upper corner of the window.

Over the body of a fly, a spider

Hunches. The fly is fresh and fat.

The spider touches and sucks.

Fat fly. The others buzz

In sporadic bursts against the window.

The one on the wall lobs itself

Through the air to the glass,

Thumping a landing on that surface.

The world a movie at its feet, it waits

In early fall’s dappled warmth,

A fat fly with other fat flies,

Waiting for the freedom of night,

When bright panes do not

Mesmerize with illusions of escape,

When cool drafts lend

A ride to winged creatures

Through a world of darkness

And no transparent barriers.

Mechanics of the Technological Renaissance

Mechanics of the technological renaissance—

Chrome dizzily spinning sunwise.

Tamarin run wild, transplanted

Oceans, continents, to a heritage

Of celluloid, and solenoid dreams short

The circuit of cosmic indifference for all

Their worth, leaving them unceasingly cold.

Man about to take charge of man decides

His true destiny and chooses his own path.

Volumes of philosophy number thousands.


Put me in your hand.

Even that small

I am the brand

That feeds the fires

Of the wars of man.

I am the lave

Of the fallen fortunes

Attending that knave.

From his blank birth

To his hollow grave,

I fill each white

Space with his motion,

And in the night

He takes my form

To the outward sight.

I am all he wrought—

Greater than the wheel

For his every thought

Revolves around me.

To him I taught

A certain permanence—

A lesson that my

Own transience

Could give a voice

To his conscience.

There Is a Map

There is a map

Of our love

Here on this page.


The paper is torn.

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