WEST

Photo by Nathan Cowlishaw

Photo by Nathan Cowlishaw

ten thousand years ago
the world was taken up into a dust storm
a giant funnel grabbing everything
and spitting it out all across the earth
that dust storm died in the western united states

the edge of humanity
it took us moving that far west
to take a minute to stop moving
expansion is a two headed dog
one head foaming out the mouth insatiable
craving bone craving blood craving more
the other with closed eyes dreaming dog day dreams
we walked this whole world over
to end up in a desert

the wind dry and honest
the sky as blue as the potential of rivers
vast canyons like empty graves
scattered skulls dust of bones
trains on unending pathways through mountains
and valleys and hundreds of miles of death
a tree in the middle of nowhere
buzzards picking apart skulls
this is the end of the line
the last page of a long and confusing story
este es mi casa
this is my home

the rebels who rebelled against everything
the tongues that never found their taste
the swelling ground the shaking core the sun
the sun unabashedly breaking through clouds
the giant microscope in the sky
watching down over these red fire ants
these farmer’s tan arms these dust bowl workers
these women on porches holding in their arms the future
the mother of invention is necessity
and we are living in drought
we are drinking the water of life
while we die of thirst
this is the beautiful west
the largest ghost town i’ve ever seen
where the spirits never leave
because there’s nowhere else
for them to go

COPYRIGHT BRICE MAIURRO 2015

Nathan Cowlishaw, one of my favorite photographers who provided the photo for and inspired this piece, currently has a kickstarter going to raise money for a trip across the Mexican border and to continue to document this beautiful country. To pledge support or learn more, click here. To follow Nathan on Instagram, click here.

BLOOD ON THE AMERICAN HIGHWAY

there is blood on the american highway
red paint splattered on white median lines beneath a blue sky
we run from coast to coast
we take off in the night, trunk left open, and we fly through the eye of the needle
into the rocky mountains in search of the final sun
that sun which burns brightly dying for california
we kiss the hills along the way
we salute the cold night concrete with lit cigarettes left to ash
we don’t know where we go
we just do as the green signs tell us to

the lostest of the lost pioneers
disoriented we are disoriented we follow the smoke signals
we drive right through the indian ghost the song of the past
we just blast the radio as if we could fill the sky with sound
great american rock sound
blaring guitars, raging drums, and the bass that moves
like a convertible through the wind
the sound through your head

this is our american song
rewritten and rewritten again
we search for freedom in its bars
independence in four four time
this is our american song
waking up in motel sixes with no cigarettes
and the t.v. is on for noise
and the sex through the wall
and the jingling of slot machines down the hall
and the hum of the ice machine
check out time is eleven o clock

we wrote our song into our constitution
first we decided we would be free
then we decided we needed guns
and we threw a couple to alabama
and we threw a few more to texas
and we boarded up the borders that we broke down

there are lights in fields in plains of kansas
to light the gymnasium swaying to high school dance
we move our hips like pioneers
we throw our hands up in the air
and when the music dies down
we drive to the tops of hills that look down on the nothing
and we kiss like we have to

then we’re off again
down the bloody american highway
through cities and deserts and fields and mountains
and more cities and we’re going where no one else has gone
at least that’s what we tell ourselves

we throw on our kerouac hats
and put an eighth of ginsberg in our glove compartment
we load up our hemingways into the trunk
and we drive
we drive into the most unnatural horizon
we move down the bloody american highway
tank on e, stuck with the am radio through the worst parts of utah
we move at so many miles per hour
of course
there is blood on the american highway

COPYRIGHT BRICE MAIURRO 2013

READ “BEN”

MARCH 12TH

and here i am
burning fossil fuels in the pitch black
something
carving through the rockies
meandering down I70 like a punch-
drunk fool.

tonight, my love!
i kiss you
goodbye.
your trees are green
with envy
but i
have got to
confirm

that there is a world
past your western
slope.

i am slipping
through the cracks
in a black soul.

and this black soul of mine
seems
nervous;
a puppy, with its
tail between its
legs.

breckenridge burns to the ground
in my rear-view.
and my rear-view mirror
frames flashlight city
chasing after me
but this storm
can’t be caught.

this vehicle
is in motion.

i want my eyes to be
panoramic.
i want my limbs to
stretch history.
i need to know what my feet
feel like
in utah.
i have to breathe in the grand canyon’s
sighs
and the artificial air of vegas
casinos.

i am not retracing anyone’s footsteps.

and i am
not
tracing my
shape
into someone else’s
shadow.

i am disappearing.

i want to know
how it feels
to be in a ghost town.
i want to know how it feels
to be
a ghost town.

(may america lend me the disorient-
ation of not having the mountains to show me
which way west is.)

i need to talk to strangers
uncomfortably
and wake up
hungover
in the afterbirth of the womb
of the west.

i am not trying to erase
christianity.
i am trying to
talk to god
first-hand.

i want to see god’s face
without
any makeup on.

i want to hear that
voice:
mountain whistles
slot machine jingles
tumbleweed scratches
bob dylan’s harmonica

i know god exists.
i just want to meet him in
unexpected
places.

please…
sweetheart
try to understand.
i will
boomerang back to you-
don’t take it personally that
i shoot through your veins at
eightyfivemilesperhour
it’s not in your nature to be so
low.
and tonight!
in the darkest of dark

we can be whatever we want to be.

i’m letting my gut
blindfold my mind
throw ‘em in the trunk
and drive
us all
into
oblivion.

the road there is lit
solely by mountain stars
close enough to grab
between the boulders
and the neon stripper signs
i am sway-
ing like a crane game.

on the road
i am finally home

on the road
i am charming
and good company

on the road
i am as confused and conflicted and beautiful as
america

it’s march 12th
(happy birthday, jack kerouac)

COPYRIGHT BRICE MAIURRO 2012

READ “SOAP OPERA OF VAMPIRES”

RANT POETRY COMPETITION

SEVIER COUNTY

i followed endless yellow lines endlessly
through a ghost’s shadow in utah and
there were no crickets and there was no god
pushing endlessly through the endless stomach of
the pupil of eternity; i was alone the way you think of
a lighthouse as being alone
and in the onyx smoke of sevier county the headlights
of my vehicle only reminded me that this place
this gun buried in a bible
was never to be found
i was a bullet in a dusty barrel
and the moon was swallowed by the sky
one hundred some odd miles
no services
the analog clock on my dashboard
was irrelevant numbers
and the oldies radio station was the muffled voices
of dead people
drowsy drivers cause crashes
warned that sign that grew out of the earth
and my eyes acknowledged
two voids staring hollow into the void staring back
i was draining like a dirty bathtub
and from the desert night road to ghost rocks
a pair of headlights blinked at me from the margins of existence
i won’t stop i said out loud to my self
and in my rear-view mirror i saw those phantom eyes
fade into non-existence
in dark roads and dark rooms alike they will always haunt me
blinking forever, lost in never.

COPYRIGHT BRICE MAIURRO 2012

READ “ROGAINE”