Dogs here live in the streets, the filthier the happier.
They neither obey nor have behavioral issues, unlike ours.

I received a Quechuan blessing in a Colonial church
and felt the hooves of Spanish horses trampling my home.

Followed by police, a gypsy woman stormed
the Plaza de Armas, stabbing the city trees with a shiv.

In Arequipa, a 500 year old frozen girl, clubbed
in the skull and offered to the gods on Mount Ampato.

Eduardo handed me a machete though I was only
joking. He taught me to make it zing through bamboo.

Deep in Peruvian jungles they grow wealthy on cocaine
and peddle the sacred coca leaf to sick tourists.

Looking back at Lima I flipped over my handlebars
and bit the sand of the Pacific. Pachamama.

by Ryan Dowling

Passing Through Ghost Ranch

Passing Through Ghost Ranch

The clouds today are worth watching. The gods are up
to something. A bird entered the white and never came back.

The desert, it’s almost like when the earth dried up
it cracked like cheap terracotta, and all the water leaked out.

You can walk all day without water because the sky said so.
Cicadas make the sound of the sun on your lips.

Earlier I was mesmerized by Cerro Pedernal, blue mesa
in a rusty dawn. O’Keeffe herself added the gold.

Always checking my watch as if time had somehow magically
leapt ahead, because out here it actually does.

The West took us for a walk: come to be cowboys,
we’re nothing but cattle who’ve left the herd in order to die.

I’m so hungry I could eat a ghost. A branch bends
beneath a fat bird—a quarter pound of meat that flies away.

by Ryan Dowling



Flesh to Stone

Flesh to Stone

Says K. in The Trial, “Like a dog!” and the stone
feels cool against his cheek until his blood spills over it.

Let us be clear: the average stone is a many-veined
cranium with as much blood and occasionally eye-pits.

Summer of 1996 I sunk a skipping stone in the Mississippi;
it’s still there, leaning into the current, a clean cut.

Soapstone in the bed of a brokedown 1983 Ford Ranger:
stone a million years old and—look—still going!

I have come to accept that I envy the centers of worlds,
that, dense as stone, I spin endlessly upon myself.

And here I sit, head spinning like a bar stool, stone
drunk at the peak of pity. Each tear a pebble at my feet.

by Ryan Dowling