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Niche

a rare undream poem from Chris Wayan's journal, May 1990

I wrestle my mouse, and the mouse wins.
I wrestle my muse, and the muse wins.
What the hell, keep painting. Blast
the rainbows into tumble-chunks. CRASH!
Oops, I forgot to save it.

Rawness masks beauty,
Like black-ore silver veins.
Only tinkerers and cranks
Smell art in new machines.

In my grandma's youth, strange
phonographs moaned in the night
And lone Americans snared in awkward light
Shy line dinosaurs and holy tramps.

And then came whorebooks:
No bone-corset covers! Barely spined,
Lithe as mammals after crab eons,
Their only strength the words: the mind.
Unveiled, just lurid flapper make-up--
Goes home with anyone for a dime.
A paperback's a working girl,
A technological crime!

Records, film, mass literacy. Hmm.
I'll spare you the verse about light bulbs.

But as that bulbous verse mushroomed,
Writing on the cement steps
On the one warm side of Lindenwade's house
Below Sandia Peak, stuccoly alone
In dewed bunchgrass and juniper
And tradeless wind...

An old couple came to pick dandelions
For an elixir that aids composting.
"We need the early flowering stage" he says
"with what we call a bull's-eye."

Their grandchild Jamie, dandelion-tall,
Finds damn near all.

They're rumpled lovable calico quilts,
So bearded and biblical
So pure and pastoral,
So patronizable.
Shepherds in a European poem
Woolly and innocent among the crooks.

But these bees forage 30,000 square miles!
Their stationwagon hops range to range--
High meadow, swoop desert, back up to green,
Buzzing with salsa when the signal comes in.

Niches in brown infinity
The Anasazi found.
Raising gold corn towers
In this impossible land.

These later Americans, too,
find an angle to work.
Wise animals do.

My hand won't paint alone.
Are tools so unnatural?
When pines' veins
bleed antifreeze?
And let's not even mention those
Aerodynamically hopeless bees!
Every niche takes subtle tools.
Every itch, a suitable fool.
That's me. That's you. Well, me.

In my warm niche (the garage steps
on the only warm side of the house)
I reboot my crashed machine,
and wrestle my muse with a mouse.



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