Three Poems by Nate Maxson


Astrolabe/ Autoclave

Rivers named in pre-latinate languages disappear along with the words for them
It’s possible to follow them (from the middle)
And see them go vaporous into the salt and dust
Having only an awareness of a vague center
But the following of it
No one ever does that completely
Even though it’s what you’re supposed to do,

Be a big shot, use the right tools: mapping it all out
Idolizing the stock image of Dante driving on an interstate which is gradually sloping down
Yes, yes: all that is very nice
But does the city really dream?
To build a railway for the dead and never see it’s end
Who dreams each spike and each nail?
The word escapes me like a sudden anosmic taste of rye whiskey and steam

Obligatory Weather Report

It’s raining as the room goes dim
And the rain turns to snow and the snow turns to dust
A tinnitus whisper (what comes after)
It sounds like it’s speaking in Italian
I would stay away from the windows if I were you,
Wait until this passes over
A record skipping vaguely
Like a stone
In this
One remembers from childhood
Curling up and waiting

Portrait Of A Mountain

There are no mirrors
On the Brocken, highest peak of the Harz mountains in Germany
But they bring them in, rolling them up the mountain in wheelbarrows
Covered in white cloths for Walpurgisnacht
It’s the stage for Faustian weather patterns (Mussorgsky set Night On Bald Mountain here, for what it’s worth)
And it has stone children around the world

Me, I live in the west and my predecessors ( I prefer that term to more familial titles) fled the very east whose fulcrum is the mountain in question
They say that if you stand at the top, your shadow will project along the mist: endless, massive and tall
The Brocken shadow, we must have seen someone standing up there glowering down at us though my first reference to such things comes from Elmer Fudd

It goes deep down into the earth: the proto-wall, the ur-wall (Brandenburg just an imitation split in half by another pretender), gate to the neutered aether (home of one of the earliest radio towers)
And comes back out here, not in a mountain
This flat spot in the desert, formation like an infant’s soft skull
Years earlier, Bonny Parker and Clyde Barrow grit their teeth preparing to be burnt at the stake on a pile of tires
These are things that an abstinence-only sex education won’t teach you
Some baby spiders knit parachutes just out of the egg and float away

This is how we separate ourselves from disease, a bad idea in the long run
In the far like mist and exhaust fumes being confused as astrological signs
Considering hibernation,
Before the invention of television snatched up the concept
We called it remote viewing
This is how we build the walls
How we climb the walls
I climb up on the roof and strike a pose but my shadow remains small

How the mountain vanishes

Nate Maxson is a writer and performance artist. He is also the author of several collections of poetry, most recently “The Age Of Jive” from Red Dashboard Press. Maxson lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico.