Among the Joshua Trees by David Wojahn

(G.P., 1947-74)

Still some twilight and the fire blooms against
the smoke trees and horizon line, visible
to campers in the desert foothills seven miles away.

They pull him from the car trunk, his shroud
a nylon pup tent. Gold tequila, draining to the worm.
And the salt grains on their writs, also glowing,

as their hits of windowpane reach cruising altitude.
Already the pyre stings their eyes—creosote, sage, and stalks
of ocotillo that have caused their hands to bleed.

The engine idles in the headlights’ shimmer
as the tapedeck plays the dead man singing The Return
of the Grevious Angel, then the reedy heartbreak of Wild Horses,

his cover that shamed the Stones, and they lug
the cans of gasoline, circling the pyre twice,
talking of the President’s resignation

and that spaceship that crashed in Roswell, New Mexico,
in Nineteen Forty-Eight, for one of them knows
someone who knows someone who saw the aliens’

silvery corpses in a secret airforce hangar.
Their eyes, he says, were huge as apples.
And now the body of Gram Parsons,

O.D. at twenty-seven, stolen by two friends
from the airport morgue at LA-EX, flares and almost trembles
as the fire scalds their faces in the plaintive wash

of Thousand Dollar Wedding, the Grevious Angel rising
in his stoned un-Rilkean splendor, rising from
the dirges of his own angelic orders,

from cinder spray and crackle as the tape goes hissing
to its final song, and the speakers cough the radio’s
dead air, and clicks of static immense, celestial.

—for Rick Madigan

From: http://www.missourireview.com/anthology/among-the-joshua-trees

Date: 1996

By: David Wojahn (1953- )

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