Haunted Passages: “Samples from a Wichita Mountains Ontology,” a hybrid haunting by Seth Copeland

*Ed.’s Note: click images to view larger sizes.

Samples from a Wichita Mountains Ontology

One summer a man fell while rappelling in the Narrows//We could hear him moan up on a cliff/his friends bright puffy squirrels circling//A helicopter lifted him out to Oklahoma City//We never heard what his next ascent was /

purple horsemint flanks the lakeside
tower\\we gargoyle the boulders keeping
people sometimes out\\friends give us shit
for smoking cloves\\highways a dull string
sneaking small & away\\we tell the rangers
SUVS to go fuck themselves\\safe & high
& high &\\human life is an imposter here\\
always brutal paws\\invasive freedom so
very western\\we wander in vodka\\culms
of cockspur\\the buzzy hack of crows\\
bones littering a riverbed\\this ash taste
we’ve tracked in\\tallgrass fog sweats up
our windows

We follow each other’s
eyes through blood :: tonguing salt under
medicine bluff :: keychains on a pyramid headstone ::
eight blue bandanas
curl on a string                   kle black water of the contrived lake ::
down an arm                 in                                   stocked for sport ::
of cedar ::                  r                                          bloody lust for meat
Swift carve w                                              at the center always
so too much often
these low west days
On the way back :: down 44 :: an 80s gas
guzzler straddles the median ::
points to the lie in the sun that it loves us at all
one of (we) has been in a flip ::
glass breath blow :: smoke of bruise
a court haunt
:that sucks: someone offers :: all that wayward youth
can manage in the bored cowboy inertia
that arrests these permian hills
and (we)
in amber

catclaw briar flustered in a frustrated wilderness :: holly roods in the cedars :: a smoking away of violent contact from a place so long captured :: I would see it :: return to itself :: to a blood that :: long crash :: paper thunder in a clearing :: a mother catches spiderwort on her horn

A road winds up Mount Scott. We went up the long way once. I was afraid to pass a thorn bush. My father told me Life has its storms, son. Reaching the mountaintop, looking down at the unpolished blue of Lake Lawtonka, I was bloody and small.

Seth Copeland edits petrichor. His work is recent or forthcoming in Dream Pop, Kestrel, Paint Bucket, SOFTBLOW, Word /for Word, and San Pedro River Review. Originally from Oklahoma, he is currently a doctoral student in Milwaukee. Find him on Twitter @SethTCopeland. 

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