The prairie is alive tonight

all creatures on the odyssey home

carrying the jewels of the day

on their heads and backs

the end of evening has been

a long time coming now shadows

stretch their paper-thin bodies

into the blackening sky

I would join them but I am still

without a place to go

this land births little comfort

for the vagabond seeking shelter

from the moon claiming solace

in the nervous winds twisting

through the clover and over hills

frisking me like an arrogant agent

of the TSA my flight requires

no baggage my seat is on the wing

hold on for a bumpy ride

nothing to eat or drink until we land

in the Aegean Sea

My hands are rough and dirty scarred

by hard work eons of scraping by

building shelters for others happy

to move into their new abodes

cut off from their neighbors and friends

an elaborate hermitage of the soul

but who speaks of it today who looks

into it searching its depth its breadth

its breaths of exhilaration and gloom

the prairie is on fire

I knew a man like me out of prison

after so many years no skills to sell

nothing to buy cut loose in the breeze

of an autumn morning free to travel

in any direction free to move and leap

into the traffic flow until the cars stopped

and he laughed into the sun at their honking

like geese he had forgotten them making their way

south to a permanent breeding ground

of backbreaking work and great loss

he died I heard from a bullet in the brain

a robbery gone wrong guns firing at masks

a bloody smile stuck to his face

Initiated into the Eleusinian Mysteries each creature

practices the ritual of nothingness writ large

across the empty sky like lodestars their thoughts

guide me toward my place in the prairie

the observer changing what he observes

the looter snatching food and drink from the source

nature nurtures we are told but the rotting trees

the red tooth and claw feed me with only fear

of mortality the angst of finitude the promise

of plenitude in currents of the prairie carrying

weary sailors home into Ithaca’s harbor

the jewels of a lifetime in hand

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