john macker | tres castillos

Tres Castillos

Victorio cuts the palpitating
heart from the last breath of his
fever dream & buries it,
somewhere under the occult moon
of Chihuahua-
aaaaaaaaaaaaaahis Warm Springs soul

shines with lunar brightness, he
scratches with a stick a skull & cross-
bones into the impervious earth,
underneath scrawls “we shall not die,
it is too dangerous”.

Out of ammunition,
stands finally alone beneath a shapeless
deluge of wanton heat,
sees blue spirit lakes rise out of the
scabrous haze &
morganas of ghost Apaches who
dream-ride hard against
these vermilion cliffs. aaaNo rain,
just unforgiving summer, the
few cauliflower clouds drift north
like ambushed witnesses.

aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaHairy woodpecker with
a red patch on the back of his head
circumnavigates the dead branch
of a cottonwood. He can’t save them
all from the inflamed distance
the black magic
the starvation
the Killer Of Enemies
San Carlos;
the only thing between him, the troopers
five thousand feet away & closing, &
these prickly low Mexican hills
is the morning light misted up;

to Victorio,
reveals nothing but all.

He rages across the lurid magic of
this gunpowder desert
into the twilight
his virtual extinction aglow
like sunlit pollen,
a half-day’s ride from
Juh’s stronghold, pursued
by bluecoats & Mexicans
south of the border
day after day
his driven band whittled
to its
bone essence
by American sharpshooters
perfecting the black art
of ambush.

A dusky blue heat closed down on him
the stars fell out of the
underground sky;
he dismounted, offered
a fistful of desert earth
to the four winds
& fragrant sage as prayer:
living la pura vida
with the summerblown clouds
white moon &
sacred datura;

Victorio inhaled the Sonoran air
as pure as anything this side
of Katmandu yet
no santuario
exterminating angel:
his raids second only to Nana’s
for their Promethean audacity,
his adjutant, scarfaced Loco as fear-
less as the August sun.

north aaaaaeast
aaaasouth aaaawest

exhausted ponies crumbled
beneath them,
women & children with
the ammo, reloading as the sun
pitched the afternoon’s
last shadows
into the arroyo-

Victorio surrounded at last
under a bowl of night sky,
women & children massacred
surrendered to no body but the
sweltering space
between black ranges;
they say he was shot by a Tarahumari,
they say he took his own life,
rode out on the dust-brittle plain,
his shadow imprinted on forever
his antagonists of the new west,
of empire, of
silver & gold can’t abide
this passion, the ones

who can, see the red clay face of the
ghost horseman
to this day.

John Macker

lives in Northern New Mexico with his wife in an old roadhouse on the Santa Fe Trail. Books and broadsides of poetry include For The Few, The First Gangster, Burroughs At Santo Domingo, 2 +2=1, among others. In 2001, won the James Ryan Morris Memorial “Tombstone” Award for poetry. Has given public readings with writers such as S.A. Griffin, Frank Rios, Tony Scibella, Gregory Corso, Andy Clausen, Ed Dorn, Linda Hogan among others. Has had essays and poems published in journals and magazines throughout the U.S. including, most recently, Manzanita Quarterly, Sin Fronteras (Writers Without Borders), Pitchfork, Black Ace Book 7, Mercury Reader, A People’s Ecology: Explorations In Sustainable Living and a large section from a new manuscript Adventures In The Gun Trade (considered to be a seminal Outlaw text), was featured in Mad Blood #2, October 2003. In Colorado, in the early-mid 90’s edited the award-winning literary arts journal, Harp, which featured interviews and poetry by Robert Bly, Gregory Corso, Charles Bukowski,Tony Scibella, Diane DiPrima and many others. Has two dogs and when time permits, listens to the wind.

John Macker’s most recent book of poetry is Las Montanas de Santa Fe with woodcuts by Colorado artist Leon Loughridge. He is also the author of Woman of the Disturbed Earth, (Turkey Buzzard Press, 2007), among others. He has recorded 2 spoken word cd’s: black/wing w/John Knoll and Reading at Acequia Booksellers. He is the editor of Desert Shovel Review and was co-editor (with S.A. Griffin and Marsha Getzler) of Black Ace Book 8, a tribute to the late L.A. poet Tony Scibella. His work is currently included in Mile High Underground, an exhibit of art & literature at the Evans/Byers Mansion, Denver, Colorado, sponsored by the Colorado Historical Society.

Much more on John Macker can be found here…

0 Replies to “john macker | tres castillos”

  1. Both Adventures in the Guntrade and Underground Sky are essential poems if you want to understand the dark side of America. I love the lines “perfecting the black art/of ambush.” This is the stuff that Outlaw Poetry is made of.

    Todd Moore

  2. Todd:

    thanks. Like Dillinger, Victorio was an american original, the american ideal of rebellion & resistance. No prisoners. raindog is sending me Wooden Gun, can’t wait. talk to you soon. I’ll come down to Albuquerque for lunch soon. The gallery trimmed me back to 4 days/week & I’m a little bit poorer but loving it. More writing, more mischief, more stuff.


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