Bojan Louis

Arc Flash

All day under influence and startled awake
at midnight, I sought my car
to kill soft snores beside me.
Hauled ass out of urban desert decay
to sandstone cliffs, five hours away,
where centuries of wind
and more recent roadway gusts
have half-piped its base,
though not enough to topple
the edge of another land’s level.
The stars went off and on, as if wired
by to-hell-with-it electricians
tired of lighting scrap-patched houses
connected by threads of predawn smoke
to invisible weavings in the sky.
Dim questions and silent answers.
Cattle, gaunt and wanting, grazed
between weeds across the valley,
interrogated the dirt of wash and creek.
How long since you’ve been clay after rain?
Hours from Phoenix, oasis
greedy and artificial, I needed Crystal,
my dad’s home, and ceremony;
less familiar mountain tobacco.
Not to guide my spirit,
used to mornings being lit,
but to remind my tongue of blood;
cold coffee made by other men’s
women who dispel me with smokes
from cheap packs set, within reach,
on their knees. Maybe they wish,
aside from my soon departure,
that I shared their danger: bastards
who make home, confinement and needs, hush.
I left and arrived months before the rainy season,
though cuts along the cliff face
over Crystal shimmered with mica.
Like stars burnt out taking eons
to reveal their absence
in myth-heavy constellations.
The sun risen
isn’t for me,
cattle being herded,
or darkness in the room
I left to wake alone.
Here, a few cars idled
without drivers,
warmed up before the workday
while smoke from houses vanished
and released the night sky.


Middle of the Desert

For the weight of your bones,
my blood thinned. Yesterday,
the east-hefted sun dissipated
humid, empty air
in space comprised of space;
dehydrated cactus and dirt barren
to the idea that it’s cold here, ever.
Nostalgia charmed
out of a hollow:
the feeling, failed duty.
To you, who I’ve departed, walking
carefully as hooves on rained granite
or other stones, are there heights
after plunging, from
which you’ll never rise? Neither of us
is yet dead. When I do go before you,
refer to me simply—don’t ever name.
This voltage wanting
to hold you
when there is no ground.
Go to your home, the one you’ve made.
Ours that’s gone. Rest in yourself and job.
If ever an earthquake or small tornado
hits again, pound
loosened nail back, clean and tape cracks,
prep for texture. If left without power
or light, trust an electrician who knows
luminaries guide only
when there are trees
or buildings to shine on.
Absent from this desert: stacks of bricks
that need to be re-pointed,
leaden Victorian glass unable to hold heat,
and roofs that connect every house
trading mold, alternating leaks.
Yesterday gone the sun lifted off
your bones; barren weight
and humid dirt
caught me cut
short, saying


Sitka, Alaska

It’s years I’ve been recovered.
Parents gone the way of worms
—mom alone, her own decision.
Dad, how he was always
asphyxiated until rolled over.
The frontier I’m abandoned to,
exposed root ribcages above ground,
rained on so much there’s no dust,
no blow away—traceless surfaces.
— — —
With a single bag and one-way ticket
I rented the first found available:
three bedroom, living, kitchen, dining
—filled it with myself, every room
empty, except where I slept.
Girls I had over, fucked to the floor,
left sobered, mostly. Offered other
times at their places later. I accepted,
then abandoned, fixed at the clinic.
— — —
This high north, though not freezing,
an island settlement cut off the coast:
pines, spruce, and chaotic undergrowth
rise up along the crescent of mountains
open toward the ocean.
Rain more sky than the sky is sky.
I’m not home. Less
interested in finding it;
hours from the mainland.
On an outlying island red deer
wait out hunters tracking
shit steam for rifle crack.
Otters cut away
supine through water,
to humans, hypothermic.
The turned engine skiff
on sucking mud signals
the goddamned day’s done.
— — —
Across the still, cobalt inlet,
cairns line the bald rim
of a sundowner volcano.
Glaciers imagined against
the sea/heaven horizon
melt when fog lifts
and missed shots echo,
fade into the tree line:
the casings mimic pebbles.
— — —
Anger defines me, here,
in what’s seen in pictures
as pristine beauty, untouched
by man’s dirty finger:
Dad’s belched regrets,
Mom’s frustrated, unspoken hurt.
I want recompense—solitude
and forgiveness’ distance—nourishment
sought, sighted, and put down.

Where welding fails
release hollers out the soon
to be empty space.
A continent,
a levee. What
rises, takes
—ice given heat,
like a child, spread
with hands telling, quiet.
— — —
Ocean hefted over stern
my ill posture
gone life drunk;
so drowned in drink
nobody wants to want me.
Rare are dads shouted
at by moms, Get—Don’t feed
us—Sink, be eaten.
— — —
Jonah’s a lucky fuck,
and undigested.
Dumb animal, him. Swallowed
entire, in warmer water.
I don’t believe he escaped.
He’s down in there still.
Hung from the beast’s spine,
feet eaten, body untouched.
This Side of the River

Five years in
my wolf/husky
is poisoned
by an older boy
who’ll turn vegetable
after head trauma.
I’ll smell him, bodied by a horse
run loose on a no moon roadway
from Window Rock to Crystal,
fold my small body and
leave memories of being
fondled in the bathroom unlit;
choked until I complied
to perform naked
with the sitter
for the neighbor—
three tiered event:
voyeur, participant, watched.

Only in five years,
it’s hard to believe
that you were placed
in your mother’s body
—given and given
to this earth.
You may have broken,
had I known you then. Even
twenty-one years later,
knowing me, you break:
pounded heart, trust inked
out, splayed thoughts
and legs. But you garner
your own garden
—hard intelligence—
trap insects that sting
or bite and scatter them
away from you.
Hearing piss expelled,
too fucked up on a morning
easily said, beautiful;
too depressed
to fuck, horny
with withdrawal;
I desire the boatman,
am eager to pay
to not get wet
in a border that quenches
and frees me of quench.
Dribble breaking open
this day begs questions:
will I, how’ll I,
stave off, or deny?
Are failed attempts
enough, enough
to be a paid-up fare?
That łééchaa yázhí, little ground shitter
—protector, shi kis—
I gave his carcass my hope
for him to lap at the river,
wet his paws, and wait for me
to remind me of what I’d lost.

After five years, abuse
lasted five, six, seven more.
Continual blackout
addiction and distance.
I think of that fucking mixed wolf,
hardly beyond a pup,
that taught me how to accept
you and myself; tightened
the connectors powering me
—anger focused joy—
my murder of night drained
down to battery or assault.
From this view on the river,
current arrives and leaves
us—reflects and envisions
the one, now, with the other.


Ko’ dóó łeeschch’iih [Fire & Ashes]

The red off the far ridge, an eating dragon, slow
coming down the valley
—my mom’s imagination over the phone,
a quarter-mile of cars ahead.
No one has stopped, on their way north or south,
to capture Hotshots turning the beast to smolder.
Somewhere out in the burn, under dusk, a rattler
den unfurls fast as brush fire
and clenches against the inferno draft
that blocks entrance and escape.
For an instant, or minutes maybe, their unnatural
warmth is a comfort beneath the ablaze final day.
It’s the shape I’m in. I don’t tell her that I will
leave, days from this moment,
the high, dry mountain we drive towards
for ashes of a different monster.

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