Jerome, Ghost Town: Arizona Memory

by Florence Major

The path spiraled up Cleopatra hill,
like Breugal’s Babel, streets leaned into night
and we walked then, unknowing of the stars
hidden beyond the nearer barbs of fire
shining, silver above the ores of gold
hued copper, deep underfoot, bound in sleep.

We’d climb this path to home where treasures sleep
beneath this pyramid, an earth tiered hill
whose depth was owned, its unmined ores and gold
belonged to those like Pluto god of night,
when bygone days of whores and whiskey fire
rewarded men who mined for Pluto’s stars.

Jerome, red bone earth where the looming stars
cascade in light that pours from darkest sleep—
Here silent worlds are lit with distant fire
and our yellow house lay against the hill,
the kitchen window faced a wall of night—
At dawn the rooster’s cry was pierced with gold.

When I first arrived the sun swirled with gold;
I was young, alone, cloaked in friendly stars—
Jerome like Petra, gutted in the night
appeared, facades like visions met in sleep—
The Trailways bus I rode turned round the hill
and when it stopped, the sun was embered fire.

In the Black Hills, parched wood dreams of fire—
Speculator’s shadows are blackened gold;
once thousands came. I’d look from the sheered hill
where copper made a King. He took the stars
that lit up hope, to fall in whiskey sleep—
Jerome left to die, lived through fleeing night.

When the bus left, I waited for the night—
Strolling in a dream of ruins by fire,
I walked the street of windows blind in sleep
and stepped a curb raised higher than fool’s gold—
I looked and found a room before the stars
were high. At dawn, I set out for the hill.

The night my friend arrived, the house gleamed gold
awakening the fire in Pluto’s stars—
The hill in flames soon took our home, to sleep.

Florence Major is an artist/poet born in Montreal, Quebec, who lives in New York City. She has poems in Chaffey Review, Cerise Press, and the translation issue of Qarrtsiluni. She has poems forthcoming in Moonshot Magazine, Poetica Victorian, Mythic Delirium, and Penwood Review. She has been a contributing editor to various print magazines. She writes in all genres and loves the discipline and challenge of formal poetry.

Back to Issue Eleven: Spring 2011