Arranging the Blaze by Chad Sweeney
The poetry of Chad Sweeney is exuberant, imagistic, and prophetic. It locates a "critical moment" of the ineffable that would be inexpressible, had it not been so beautifully expressed: "the last hawk in the net of his eye." Prophetic means of the world -- "the median burns with oleander from Miami to LA" and "the beer tastes of uranium" -- but also touched by the marvelous ("the fire is folded inside its wood"). This is a poetry of awakening, of coming into knowledge. We are near the beginning and the end, but in a curiously real place where you can hear the white teeth of a bull pull at the grass. -- Paul Hoover
The Navajo Poet
for Sherwin Bitsui
He spoke from the back room of a storm
where sky fires revolved around a ship's mast.
The Golden Fleece was a thing made of words,
the wool a man grows
to warm himself in the blue snow of desert mesa.
in search of this,
crows belled from the eaves
for the guilty. Even their shadows
left fingerprints along our vertebrae.
Corner stores staggered to Route 66
to thumb a ride
from the ghosts of coyotes in gravel trucks.
Citizens pinched money between their eyelids.
In the drying hands of butchers
the bone saw rattled with bridges.
A shepherd sang from far away,
a lizard born of solar wind
crept inside the well of a cactus to sleep.
Beggars founded their own city
in the long median that burns with oleander
from Miami to LA.
The beer tasted of uranium. Flint Wing
auctioned the Milky Way's pelt
for a dawn-streaked pontiac
with a full tank of gas.
Black Rock Desert, Nevada
I watch the welders make the carousel
angular on one knee, atop a ladder,
amidst flame and their own private cloud
of dust or smoke
or something else, like memory --
adjoining beams at right angles,
the joists, the wheels,
one tongue of fire
like a word.
Under the masks
they are magicians
with a red stitch,
a green stitch.
I've seen their work before,
that would otherwise lie back
in its own vein of ore,
Irish among their dead,
scars beneath the breasts
where the coal train crosses.
depends on this,
at the wrist, at the mouth.
The welders are laughing now
above their heavy
boots, holding the cold beer
against the vein in their necks.
The carousel is turning.
It's night! The dragons!