There was a desert wind blowing that night. It was one of those hot dry Santa Anas that come down through the mountain passes and curl your hair and make your nerves jump and your skin itch. On nights like that every booze party ends in a fight. Meek little wives feel the edge of the carving knife and study their husbands’ necks. Anything can happen. You can even get a full glass of beer at a cocktail lounge. — “Red Wind” Raymond Chandler
Out on the great plains, the crops parch.
Waiting in the lingering light for the drifting night,
Waiting for the rains to stroll through.
Flameflicker of dark dustwind
Rattles, rustles the dry corn sheaves.
The dust rises within the wind.
To trace the inside of the atmosphere,
And then the hands of weather
Forms fists on the far horizon.
There on the flint flaked edge of the far field
The slash of lightning strikes, strikes, strikes,
There, from far hightower seen,
Out on the parched plains,
Over the stands of black bamboo,
The State’s preserve of heirloom grasses,
Bends before the wild mustangs,
Where ghostly riders behind the rain
Gallop robed with darkness visible…
And then the rose dawn.
And the swirls in today’s far fields
There where dust devils dance,
And then the final fall
Of the black shawl of night
Draped across the shoulders of the stars.
And then the fading thunder
Rolling downslope into the distances
Into the land of cold stone silences.
And then, sweeping into the West
Into the blue, into the bleached black, back
Beyond the hills of haze, on the back of some immense angel,
And sheathed in the full armor of God,
The people ride in pursuit of a dream they’ve never dreamed,
But into which shall, in a time without time, in a dream without dreams, awaken.
For his brother, Thomas John