"I'll eat when I'm hungry. / I'll drink when I'm dry. / If the hard times don't kill me, / I'll live till I die. / Rye whiskey, rye whiskey, rye whiskey, I cry. / If you don't give me rye whiskey, / I surely will die." -Traditional American cowboy ballad.
Michael Luis Dauro is a poet, tarot-slinger, and beekeeper living in Bloomington, Indiana. He is a Millay Colony Resident Artist, Ruth Lilly Poetry Fellowship finalist, Pushcart Prize nominee, and a CantoMundo fellow. His work has appeared in As/Us, StoryScape, At Length, Phantom Drift, Rattle, Sonora Review, and others. Michael is also totally, unironically into spaghetti westerns and pro wrestling.
Welcome to the Poets Weave. I'm Romayne Rubinas Dorsey. Michael, what poems have you brought for us today?
We set camp under a star-rugged dome of desert. I’m made of far too much horse sense to poet-up cloud-woven fancies, so I fingertip the night’s glintin’ storyworks. This one right here, be the Loungin’ Lady of the southern skies. I trace her thighs to the lustered lip of horizon. Story goes, she dipped her toe into the abidin’ all-nothin’ & so sprung a celestial river that rode the night in two. She spoons in close & lips the ringlets tucked behind my ear. As pure as gumption, we be the spillover.
First light comes with the lizard’s tongue—pink flashes that draw drink from dew-jeweled eyes. All the desert held in the beaded visions of this here lizard. World after world prismed & tremblin’, & me, a spectre driftin’ through each one of ‘em. In the boughs above, a honey-crested cloudcreeper fandangos to its own mornsong. Its shadow dance sets the lizard off in a firedog scamper across the sands. There ain’t no words. This morning’s a rusty puddle & I’m drownin’ in what’s reflected. I’m drownin’ & there ain’t no words.
Bliss. Why must it be that me & my tribe think it a necessity to disdain that which makes our boots lighter? We bury it all under the bottlebrush of whiskey. Unhurried risers, hunched trudgers of dawn—you’d think our hearts buckets, brimful wit rusted horseshoes. Bliss. We get a sniff, then ghost ourselves outside to suck our teeth at the gray tumble-down of dusk. We cluck at the saguaros that stand under the unsettled districts of moonlight, their needled arms raised in surrender as they bloom. You’d think by now we’d have learned from our quiet kin, to hold our arms aloft wit ‘em & test what petaled fists may fetch.
The desert ain’t here to inspire. These wrinkled dunes ain’t the dude’s holy range to rove. When it rains here, the dead grow thirsty. Abide the storm-borned emissary of the dreamless. Flash flood. Open-graved, sea-less. Sprawl of crawlin’ wave. A body of water of bodies done stayin’ buried. We tend to pay violence with a dumb tongue. We skip stones across its pall waters & call it poetry. Pearly majesty, pilgrimed range. What lies beneath these plains ain’t no trifle. When the dead rise, what they point at us ain’t rifles.
You've been listening to the poetry of Michael Luis Dauro on the Poets Weave. I'm Romayne Rubinas Dorsey.