I began in St. Louis, The Gateway to the West.
Dreams of home are still alive.
Near St. Charles, enormous Clydesdales
muscle their way into the stalls where large apples
have been dropped on the hay.
I am awake now, my father prowling the lines
of an unseen enemy 8,000 miles away.
If I can dream, he returns to lead me into the stalls,
among the horses, apples and sweet must of hay,
it is the only protection I can offer him.
On the prairie in western Minnesota, I am awake once again.
I have tried to dream my way into a life that disappeared
in the silver glare of Sunset Boulevard. Crouching over a fire,
the last human being between here and the Badlands
I dream of great herds churning the black earth down to its roots.
Men, their scent covered in bear grease, come down from far
                off mountains, return the buffalo to the sun.
It is a shivering dawn.
There is no wood for the fire.
Wrapped in a buffalo robe listening to the wind, the snow,
the far off horn of a diesel engine complain
to the abandoned prairie.
They sound like the voices of women leaving their pianos
behind on the trail, like children of men who search for gold
in all the places it will never be found.
At the edge of the western desert where the earth
rises from its knees I am drunk on whiskey in honor
of all the bodies left beneath sandstone markers.
I am drunk on joy at the vision of maples and willows
the long shadows they cast over the green grass field.
I am drunk with the end of it all, the end of dreams,
the end of America in the rich black crease of the sea.