the very large array & two other new poems by Luther Allen

the very large array

hunting in the infinite gila
we see a shadow bobcat
hung with tufts of long hair
moving ghostlike, powerfully

                we kill no elk.
                we eat two very tough abert’s squirrels.

turkey creek:
big bear tracks, gobblers
long slickrock pools
full of rainbows and smallmouth
sycamores, oaks
and god knows what.

tried to float my truck down the river.
no luck.
and further on:

the plains of san augustine.
               his doctrine: absolute predestination,
               the immediate efficacy of grace.

the vla monsters
in their slow graceful ballet
of listening.

                who is out there?
                is there other life?
                what does it have to say?

these are not the questions

the real question is why.

                why are we here?
                why do we wonder?

and what is beyond the universe?

perhaps all we can do
is tuck our wandering and feeble minds
into these canyons and ridges
and listen for the echoes
of bobcat laughter.

* a collection of large dish-antennas used for radio astronomy, located on a 22 mile grid in west central New Mexico, on the northern edge of the Gila National Forest.



we live in trailer houses, rent apartments
travel on the weekends
to watch other people’s lives
which are more planted.

dirt roads, mud, snow.
no map, ruts, bewildered sheepherders.
pregnant orange moon rising
in pregnant purple dusk.

we camp in the dark.
early march, the stars still hide
far back from the frost, snow.
juniper smoke, burgandy and venison.

sleep cold, up at dawn, biting wind.
raucous fire and steam rolling off tea water:
red bluffs, hogans, new pickups and
colder than six motherfuckers.

goddamn navajo tribal utility authority –
puts double monstrosity power line
right through kinlichee tribal park:
anasazi ghosts prowl for new souls.

i crawk with the crows,
the gypsies of the nether world.
and i see my eyes in the face
of every drunken indian
                                      on the streets of gallup.


hunting near reserve, new mexico 1969

            getting there

you drive all night to get there
        at least it seems like all night
it’ll be all night by the time you get back

at 80 mph trying to stay on the damned road
       chuckholes deadhorses lantern-eye cows
no deer
      making curves that wind from and to nowhere
under mountains that kill stars.

see america.

past aragon, and horse springs
       where men I suppose stop to drink I suppose and
after three and a half hours you no longer
        move down the asphalt —
the outside world streams by instead
        pulling cars hills dips trees towns curves and cops
past you

and all you know for sure
       is that, per koma,
it’s raining and 72 in oklahoma city.

red shirt eating nonstop
       cold roast and pastry and fritos and canned grape pop
finally, reserve. by god, almost there.
        past upper san francisco plaza
        past lower san francisco plaza
or maybe vice versa
        and the eerie redwhitegreybrown sawmill
onto the corduroyed dirt road that
         switchbacks straight up the great mountain.

you are
       a blare of light
           a trail of milky dust.
       so lonely.          and really
             at the mercy
                 of the black black black

looking for deer’s eyes or coyotes or foxes
       in the headlights but no and
leveling off.   sheep basin.
        sagebrush flat.   a tank.
little flat rolly hills with pinon everywhere.
      but now the world falls off on all sides,
into the black.

       is this the road? the turn-off?
       i don’t know, looks like they changed it.
       this is it. this is the road.

and you pop out of your heatered-slept car
        and the smell of the stars and black
        and pinon and other ever-unknowable things
whips your face cold and burns your nose inside and
       your feet crack frost on the grass
       your hands melt the rime on the barb wire and gate post
and your ears are brittle again
        like every other time.

back in the car, you can see the lights
        from the camp up valley
they came earlier, with the jeep.
        and the bottom of your car bounces off
the rocks and ruts but it’s o.k.
      because now you stop for the last time.

       it’s about time you got here.
       yeah. yeah. any tracks?
       couldn’t tell. didn’t get here till 9:30.

and you finally excited/relieved crawl into
        the icy nylon womb sleeping bag
and get ready, for the thousandth time,
         to kill that great grey giant buck.

                        °       there

down the road
a mile, two miles
growls and farts
a logging truck
being pulled back
in half by its load
as it crawls
up this hill

this hill
this tent
this body
with yours
naked — in green light.
canvas flight
i boil to be with you,
your smile.

the long, long hill
which carried me this morning
up to you
with the hard hot powerful rifle
looking for fresh flesh to slay.
charging through the trees
and down the road
is coming the truck
pinned with the
great scabby shafts of pines
vibrating the forest
in its diesel dreams

inside the green bubble
a motorcycle noise
lodges between our toes
and gasps and gentles
and pounds up our legs
over my back
and reaching my ear
dives inside our being
and splays itself throughout.

green slow vibrations green.
pounding green
green pounding
green dream pounds
as the truck
carries us through
as we have pulled it
up the hill

and over

and past this tent
down to the mill

and we breathe slowly
once more.

                   °     Leaving

hell boy
they ain’t
no more deer
’round here.

too many hunters.
too many roads.


A lifelong poet, Luther Allen was born in New Mexico and lived 40 years in the Southwest before moving to northwestern Washington. He facilitates SpeakEasy, a community reading series, and is co-editor of Noisy Water. His collection of poems, The View from Lummi Island, can be found at othermindpress. His work is included in the recent anthologies WA 129; Refugium, Poems for the Pacific; Poets Unite! LitFUSE @10; Weaving the Terrain; and For the Love of Orcas. His short story, The Stilled Ring, was finalist in the annual fiction contest at He views writing as his spiritual practice.

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