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Spring/Summer 2008, Volume 24.3


Ken RainesPhoto of Ken Raines.

Ken Raines installed washing machines, played in a bar band, and chauffeured the rich and famous before landing a brief janitorial gig with Robert Redford. He also worked as a sound engineer and did Elvis-impersonator shows in Reno, Nevada. Currently, he teaches at Eastern Arizona College.



It’s an obtuse angle, up through the window
and tangle of barren, intersecting twigs,
to a crow, inspecting the wind, bobbing
the limbs of the elm. It bends and flaps,
climbs and alights on a twisted pair
of high-tension lines, instinctively
clinging to whatever world it finds.
It swings the inverted arc of wires
until they bind in a delicate fork
where two of the moving branches conjoin.
Though never proven in the geometry of crows,
it is a given that a wire will suffice—congruent
with twigs or trees as a place to gain
some purchase in an unbounded world.

Come summer, green conceals the top
of the tree. The branches collect children,
like a weir set across the fluid light,
moving through severe angles
in the early evening. The children climb
high as they dare and ride each sigh
of the wind. Their faces appear in bits
and flickers between the leaves, stippled
silhouettes ripple on breeze-blown muslin.
With absolute faith in enumeration,
they gather and measure black feathers,
trash, string untangled among the branches.
At length, they descend in the dark, laughing,
clutching their remainders of long division.


Big Cats

Some raise alarm, disturbed by clawed terrain,
the purrs and growls, the diesel smoke they spew,
but in the evolutionary chain,
these cats take part in ecosystems too.



I. Takeoff

With a dull roar, we circle
for altitude and evaporate
from sight, flinging a single
backward glance. Inexplicable
intersections and angles cross
the desert, stretching
to infinity or nowhere
at the round edge of the Earth.

II. Landing

We ease into the skid.
Snowflakes refract and spiral
in ephemeral geometries
through the mercury vapors
that line the airport off-ramp,
dropping perfect cones, opaque
as etched glass, at the outer edge
of the descending curve.


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