Stranded at Alpha
Brandon Krieg

A man does alpha
exercises on his wolves

Tall as deer
glacial eyes

The fences crackle

On this mountain he grows
marijuana and wolves

Like everyone else up here you say
he is mere receiver

for satellites you pick like shells
from the night sky’s shores

to listen down the long winding futures

You only mention him
because in this exercise he has created

he is alpha

If we could arrive where we are I think
the grid of twine fastened to stakes and
the vines’ crazing would clarify

afternoon’s aslant
like a damper pedal slowly lifted.

But strung from end to end of the valley below us
the cables’ dominants buzz—

power without face, mere
force without difficulty

We stare only
at two lights, you say: fire and screens

You touch and touch a screen

Smell of ash in the stove it is morning
We wake on a firebreak road
no fire climbs to

You touch
the fine hairs of the apricots
where cold sunlight touches

They are a little beyond even
where sunlight touches

Go ahead call out to them you say

They will not let you in

The workmen cut down the daffodils
lighting the doorway of your shack

Inconsolable, you left your love back there
to tell me another woman

wants to fly you to Trieste, Odessa, anywhere
perhaps one day pay for your cryonics

But for years you’ve disciplined your love’s
art; without you

she might have babies, write
about babies, mere
human babies.

A dog has followed us three days
to this promontory; you let it lick your hand,
compassionate only

to those forbidden
from remaking the world in their image.

Camera batteries in dust
high above Silicon Valley

it’s all captured
it won’t get away

I pick up a fragment of clay, ancient-
seeming, mechanically
stamped: “Bio …”

We’ll escape you think
the wedding of life and death
just as the last amphorae are emptied

You are writing a novel
about a man on a mountain
who suspects everyone below is dead

He engineers children
with his DNA, instructs them
to long to resurrect him someday …

I go off alone,
unable, even, to find my way back

to that sunrise grotto
where a cat flicks a mosquito from its ear

in my journal.

Brandon Krieg is the author of Invasives (New Rivers Press) and Source to Mouth (New Michigan Press) and a founding editor of The Winter Anthology.