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Gary Snyder

OIL

Soft rainsqualls on the swells
south of the Bonins, late at night. Light
from the empty mess-hall
throws back bulky shadows
of winch and fairlead
over the slanting fantail
where I stand.

but for men on watch in the engine room,
the man at the wheel, the lookout in the bow,
the crew sleeps. in cots on deck
or narrow iron bunks down drumming
passageways below.

the ship burns with a furnace heart
steam veins and copper nerves
quivers and slightly twists and always goes -
easy roll of the hull and deep
vibration of the turbines underfoot.

bearing what all these
crazed, hooked nations need:
steel plates and
long injections of pure oil.

                  GS 1958 western pacific




REEDS

             "Why should we cherish all sentient beings?
             Because sentient beings
                       are the roots of the tree of awakening.
             The Bodhisattvas and the Budhas are the flowers and fruits.
             Compassion is the water for the roots."
                                                            -Avatamsaka Sûtra


I A Beach in Baja

“…on the twenty-eighth day of September 1539, the very excellent
Señor Francisco de Ulloa, lieutenant of the Governor and captain of the
armada by grace of the most illustrious Señor Marques de Valle de
Oaxaca, took possession of the bay of San Andres and the Bermeja Sea,
that is on the coast of this new Spain toward the north, at thirty-three
and a half degrees, for the said Marques de Valle in the name of the
Emperor our King of Castille, at the present time and in reality,

          placing a hand on the sword,
          saying, that if anyone contradicts this
                  he is ready to defend it;
          cutting trees with his sword,
          uprooting grass,
          removing rocks from one place to another,
          and taking water from the sea;

all as a sign of possession.
…   - I, Pedro Palenzia, notary public of this armada, write what
happened before   me.”


II Kadekaman.
          Cadeu Caamanc.
                  “Creek Reed” : San Ignacio

(aggava.    hawk               aggvacaamanc    creek of the hawks)

Señora Maria Leree is ninety-eight years old
rests in a dark cool room at full noon.
A century-old grapevine covers the house. Casa Leree.
“she still tries to tell me what to do”
– her daughter Rebecca
lived forty-five years in Los Angeles.

Dagobert drives a beer truck all day every day
and some nights,
from Guerrero Negro to San Ignacio.
Says the salt works at Guerrero Negro
Sell most of their salt to Japan;


Rebecca plays the mandolin
“I need some music down here.”
Dagobert trucks beer to ranches
all through central Baja
over those rutted roads.
“I have six kids in Guaymas. I
Get over to see them three days a month”

South of El Arco
a hummingbird’s nest with four eggs;
        four Mexican black hawks
a caracara on the top of a cardón
a bobcat crossing the truck track at twilight
a wadi full of cheeping evening birds

Cats walk the fan-palm roof.
           Her two sons are painters.
           – “I am a poet.”
           “You came down here to Baja for
           – inspiration?    Poeta?”
           Yes, on these tracks. Rising early.
           Dry Leather. Deep wells.
                  Where we breathe, we bow.


III Eat Your Self

The bulls of Iberia – Europa loves the Father;
India loves the big-eyed Mother Cow.

In the Thyssen Gallery in Madrid there is a painting by Simon Vouet – “The
Rape of Europa” – from about 1640. The white bull is resting on the ground,
the woman sweetly on his back. A cheerful scene, two serving women, three
cherubs, stand by to help this naked lady and the handsome eager bull. His
big eyes are looking up and back, flowers twined around his horns. The
Goddess giving herself over to huge male energy? making modern Europe
with its states and wars?

Bony cows of Baja.
Body of grass, forbs, brush, browse.
Dried meat.    Charqui      “jerky”;
(Little church up the arroyo.
Leathery skinny twisted ropy Christ
figure racked to dry)
Quechua ch’arki:
Dried to keep, good years and bad –

“With this meat, I thee wed”

the MUSCLE    dried jerked meat
the SKIN    shoes, saddles, sheaths
the BONE    buttons
the FAT    buckets of lard
HORNS & HOOVES    glue.
loose vulva, droopy udder
the MILK    babes

bony old cow scratching
horn head on a mesquite limb –
Sweet grass breath
spiraling outward.

– the hoof of the cow is a track of the grasslands
the print in the grass is the hoof of a cow –

her BREATH     life


        mother bos
in her green-grass body at
        Arroyo de Camanjue – arroyo of reeds –

(old rancherias called
idelcagomó – creek of the large ranges
cahelulevit – running water
idelibinagá – high mountain
idelabuú – plateau of the mountains)

The elderly ragged bearded vaquero
coming down the track. On his dusty horse.
“Command me!”    with elegance.

        “Adiós!” with such finality.
“Go with God!”

With this meat    I thee feed
with this flesh    I thee wed.



        This is an earlier version of “With This Flesh”
        from Mountains and Rivers Without End.

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