In the field, Holsteins falter with deadliness, secrecy newly written in their cells.
Crow flaps up from the scrub, bringing pressures to Bear.
It became so quiet after the news.
The man in the bathtub embraces his knees. Intently studies his kneecaps. He sees cancerous cells moving with the fanatic gunmen, the calamitous ants, the disingenuous journalists.
A roiling hunger wreathes his bones singing: “Death Death Death.”
The bones implode with the chant, leaving the man in his bathtub embracing a cloud whose center glows.
The Cloud as a memory, a curse.
The Cloud showers early. Drops its load. Scans the Post. The limo comes round at a quarter till.
In the boardroom of Abaddon a Chagall dreamily plays on the beige wall.
Seven men enter and take their places at the mahogany table.
China cups, silver carafes of coffee. Someone murmurs: “Dresden.”
A fireball opens its mouth. A scream fades as The Cloud fills the doorway.
A pressure comes to Bear.
He petulantly snuffles, rips a young cedar from its moist earth and flops his heavy butt upon it.
There he sits with idiot fulfillment while Crow watches him from above.
Crow has followed Bear for twenty summers and twenty winters.
Crow is waiting for Bear to fall ill with some parasite or to make an error crossing a high ridge some moonless night
and plummet to a broken neck.
A fatal attack by a younger, stronger bear would suffice.
Crow has been bringing pressure to Bear for so long it is of little importance how the end will arrive.
Bear grunts once more, then is silent.
Blood flows from its jaws.
In Abaddon’s boardroom the seven men attend The Cloud. It wells up, expanding its grey green density. The seven men choke and cough as The Cloud jams them, fingering deep their lungs. The Cloud contracts, sucking the conditioned air from the room tightly unto itself. The seven men gasp with shuddering mouths as the vacuum crashes upon them. The Cloud becomes composed. The men gather themselves from the floor. The newest member of the board turns to his associate who is patting gobs of saliva from his well-tailored lapels.
“Is he always like this in the morning?”
“Oh, no. Not usually. Only when he is under some kind of pressure.”
The Cloud overhears this remark. A sinew of vapor, winding on itself, thrusts the length of the table and coils about the importunate board member’s face. A hideous bubbling is the only sound heard in the room. The vaporous tentacle withdraws and is insorbed by The Cloud. The remaining six men are unable to take their eyes from their former colleague, now a torso leaning back in a leather chair. Its’ decomposed head a fan of purple and white rivulets running down a well-tailored suit. The Cloud brooks no references to its shortcomings.
(It became so quiet after the news.)
Crow began his journey east the morning after eating Bear’s eyes and tongue. He flew low, traversing the sides of the mountain in trajectories that left an exhilerating pattern in his mind.
The plains stretched out before Crow, now resting on a rusted upturned GMC differential.
On the far side of the determined horizon, Crow perceives The Cloud in Abaddon as he did once Bear and The Cloud in Abaddon feels the pressure welling, being beaten toward him by stunning onyx wings.
(Originally published in MELTDOWN: Poems From The Core, Full Count Press, 1980.)