The Fangs in Heaven’s Jaw

The malignant smile of a pitiless sun is mirth this land must bear.
Where pilgrim clouds brave searing skies in drafts of tortured air.

Painted desert’s spirit sky beheld the mighty thaw.
Bared fangs of bone and fire stone as teeth in heaven’s jaw.

Ancient rift in humble earth, a canyon carved in rage.
Ten thousand years of glacial tears birthed cactus, sand and sage.

Nighthawks sweep that crimson dusk, in ‘swoop’s they rend the wings
Of fragile prey that end the way the desert sunset sings.

Salvation flees this jagged gate each eve at day’s death knell.
At vision’s edge, haunts stalk the ledge above Tartarus where I dwell.

On Watchtower Rock a sentinel waits, notes weep from a reed in his hands;
Descend to the bed of a river long dead a-wash in drifts of sand.

I tarry a moment to offer a prayer to send this sad spirit home;
Whose echoes invade the silence I crave, my demons I must face alone.

Hallucination, spectral musician,
Wandering shade from the past depart!
Abide no more in sorrow,
Staunch your flow with Yarrow,
Fade, forget tomorrow,
It’s just one more beat of the heart.

Rest you ghost in slumber far beyond this headstone ridge.
An ever-expanding skin of stars beckons you, o’er that bridge.

Let me tend this dusty tomb where I shun the strife of life.
Sleep where angels heal old wounds and visit no more my night.

SS Matthews

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