Mongol Dreams

Can’t stop thinking about Mongols

   when the world was divided

between walled city and open grass

out there: horses running

       yurts strung along the river


in here: the cloister bells, close commerce, fever

the world divided by smells:

   raw earth, vetch, grass toasting under sun to tinder,

rain, burning manure, sour milk/

penned oxen, goats, guttered sewer, incense, baking

   bread, burning wood

the gods divided:

   three on one side/dozens on the other

       deliciously unfair, like a power play in hockey

the three solemn and static as a tryptic, bound to each other/

   the dozens running wild, fighting, jealous, fucking

And the dreams: the sleepers in the city

   wear ruts in their sweat-soaked unmoving beds

       year after year

dreams that channel like water:

   of shadows out there in the shapes of horses, teeming, faster than birds.

       The clean confiding whisper of an arrow.

Almost a relief to finally be taken, the burden of waking to another bounded day/

What does a Mongol dream about? In this new valley

   with the wind beating the walls?

Lightning maybe. A girl who can fight. Jumping a mare

   over the mountain. Crane-birds with women’s eyes. Panic of being

lost. Glass of a creek. Ice. An insult, a vindication,


A stone wall rising on the other side

 of a hill. A high-burning harvest of souls.

April 17, 2010