Selections from Sierra Amnezia
Michael Luis Dauro


I ain't a son of a gun, but a daughter of slaughter. My Pa a plough boy turned war orphan turned bully-beggar turned hallelujah peddler turned saloon broomhand turned barn house fisticuffer turned bronco-wild roscoe turned hell-bent highwayman turned train-heister turned twice-baptized preacher-mayor turned flesh rancher turning a fine profit turning dog-men loose upon stolen girls, & then I turned up in one of them bellies & Pa went off to turn himself into a land-taker then a mine-staker driving shadowfolk down them pits to turn over their silver hauls so he could turn flag-waver turned pale savior of the meager-wracked dream-chasers turned hand-over-heart fear hawker who wrangled his new nation one town-burner at a time, & I wanted to be owed-to-none like Pa & so begrudged my fog-eyed Ma & turned murder romancer while Pa's serpent-spouting turned we-made-these-broken-lands-into-empire turned heaven-brought-us-here-to-civilize-the-Sierras & went on to turn the meanest in his charge into lawmen all across the plains & then turned his attentions upon my gunplay know-how & so turned me into his cold sharpshooter, death-dealer, mutiny-bleeder, gallows-stalker & right-hand revolver, so long as it wasn't daughter.


We set camp under a star-rugged dome of desert. I'm made of far too much horse sense to poet-up cloud-woven fancies, so I fingertip the night's glinting storyworks. This one here, be the Lounging Lady of the southern skies. I trace her thighs to the lustered lip of horizon. Story goes she dipped her toe in the abiding all-nothing & so sprung a celestial river that rode the night in two. She spoons in close & bites the hair tucked behind my ear. As pure as gumption we be the spillover.


Prisma—her name an abracadabra that scatters all her colors, & all the colors between them colors, into a holy chime of notes I ain't never heard before. My mind can't make sense of all that glory, all that shimmer. Even her shadows be hallowed color-filled like the rainbow paper of dragonfly wings. The lights of her cloak turn like the spokes of a mighty wheel, with each of her steps bidding a turn of that great wheel. She cuts a sluiceway of light through the whole desert. & where that river of light touches, up rushes golden-tongued thrushes singing holy-holy-holies & oh-my-sweeties. & off come my lashes like a crash of mad comets across the wide blue, then the sky too gets to going so all that's left is a twinkle-studded dark forever-hitherward & beyond. I come to find I'm one of them points of light, & I come to reckon I'm the whole lot of them too.

Michael Luis Dauro is a CantoMundista living in Bloomington, Indiana. The poems featured here are from an epic poem currently entitled, Sierra Amnezia. The epic follows a woman gunslinger, the Woman with No Name, who travels a desert that's stripped its inhabitants of their histories. Her journey leads her to interpret the violence enacted against her and other women, and her own participation in the violent world she lives in. Michael can be found at and on Twitter: @ArchpoetDauro.