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[Reno, NV. May 27, 2003]

We stare at the Sierras topped with spring snow,
the high desert the color of British khaki, something
made by mud daubers.

We come to bury Dillon Thomas, a poet’s name,
he was only five, trapped in an unforgiving body
requiring an adult coffin.
He lies in a Victorian house, dark and compressed,
cluttered with cowboy regalia, a saddle and sidearm.
A bamboo flyrod and wicker creel stand in the corner,
things the boy will never use to catch trout or words to
make into poems.

God does not practice catch-and-release.

Male California quail strut between brush piles,
puffing their electric blue breasts across the street
from a Latino biker bar while magpies flit from tree to tree
yakking anxiously, black and white, life adjacent to death.
A biker by the curb sees me, uses his beer bottle
to make the sign of the cross.

The priest stands in the walled children’s section of the graveyard,
announces when he goes Home he will reside in a row
of priests, pointing with his hand. My brother Jim, the park ranger says, “Yeah, right next to the kids.”

Back in my room in the Atlantis
I stare at the bedspread and curtains,
orange and blue fish on pink,
the color of Pepto-Bismol beyond expiration.
Bad taste on a bad day.

I am dogged by fish I can’t catch,
funerals I can’t prevent.

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