Friday, December 23, 2011

Flat Screen Midnight... Next-Best



Flat Screen Midnight... Next-Best

Ghosts in pinstripes are cleaning pine tar off
thick-handled baseball bats with cognac-soaked rags.

A drunk cowboy who looks like Paul Newman
drunk-drives a pink Cadillac into a black & white field.

Wooden smile, the protagonist is green, has a crew cut.
The ingenue remarks that her cigarette tobacco is stale.

The ingenue is tied to a Roman pillar with scarves.
Her clothes are missing and she is sweat-polished.

Earlier today you received an email containing a piss-drizzle
poem expressing the hope that you are in the care of the Lord.

When the stolen Corvette's trunk pops open, the ingenue
sees, in her rear view mirror, counterfeit twenties blow away.

A posse is riding bullet-scarred horses on a sun-shriveled
hard land... high red grass... a bank desperado with a withering stare.

On the next channel, Warren Oates is the film's deuteragonist.
As usual, you growl at the dog, He should a had the lead role!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Happy Birthday, Kenneth Rexroth



Happy Birthday, Kenneth Rexroth
(December 22, 1905 - June 6, 1982)

Blurry nights over Japanese poetry...
girls on the scrounge for bread or love.
Later you open a used book shop
on San Francisco's Union Street,
make an easy dollar off review copies.
Ginsberg howls and steals your acolytes.
Marthe runs off with Creeley.
You dogpaddle into the deeper
inky waters of haiku,
suffer academic parties
(lamp shades on skulls)
in Santa Barbara.  Now the grave
facing the blue-green Pacific.
Small wonder that tonight
a couple of soft-belly
gloom-eyed poetry slammers
will spill wine over your words.



Note: Happy Birthday, Kenneth Rexroth, with many other bio-sketch poems, is included in Red Shuttleworth's Ghosts & Birthdays, a book published by Humanitas Media Publishing in 2012... available on Amazon.


Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Empty Small Town Hotels

Red Shuttleworth




Empty Small Town Hotels

Empty burgundy bottles, cracked in half
buffalo bone buttons, newspaper sheets filled
with the sporting exploits of Bat Masterson,
the whispers of whitened skeletons serve
as insulation between rotted-bed empty rooms.

At the front desk, you can knuckle wood
until your wrist throbs and not get
a night's rest.  In the summer... warmth.
Come winter... frozen feather pillows.

Doors open and slam shut on their own...
no need for booze-clogged honeymooners.
The dusty first floor cattlemen's restaurant
serves pasture-found Hereford jawbones.
The copper piping's been salvaged.
Potatoes have been hurled through windows.

I'll drive us there next spring.
All that shined yesterday can glow again.
We'll barge in, tip our cowboy hats
to the ladies, sing some Hank Williams,
steal back forsaken years with laughter.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Mark Zuckerberg: Creepy Guy of the Year

Is Mark Zuckerberg's creepy smile
predicated on having turning Facebook
into a tawdry advertising fishwrap?


Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook: the strategies of a pedophile:
  1. Hook 'em in with candy.
  2. Abuse 'em with a blizard of ads.
  3. Get 'em to tolerate being abused.

What we can do:

Call or email your congressman.  Ask that Facebook be regulated by the FCC and that it's financial books be opened.

Consult an attorney.  Is it possible there's a class action law suit that could eventually result in Facebook having to pay each  user a dollar for each ad placed on his or her page?

Call for an IRS audit of Mark Zuckerberg and of Facebook.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Happy Birthday, Fyodor Tyutchev



Happy Birthday, Fyodor Tyutchev
(December 5, 1803 - July 27, 1873)

Night-flutter of birds in the pines out front,
like the rustle of a young Bavarian widow's skirt 
as she sits to read a poem of crystal-blue skies,
tender smiles, love and death.  No mention
of a diplomat's dandruff, nor of grumbles
over another man's wildfire-beloved going cold
after application of a new gold wedding band.
You made glossy-best of Russian winters,
wrote warmer poems in Athens, Rome,
and, best of all, with bunioned feet
at play in Swiss lakes. The snowy, rutted roads
to and from the estate, Ovstug, were depressing,
like a smelly maid's oat-colored quivering buttocks.
The poems cried out to be written, but you scrunched
most of them in your fist, saying, We all vanish,
why not my tiny cups of salted watery wine?

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Primitive Road



Primitive Road

Past the swirl of yellow cemetery dust,
shallow-rooted trees, homemade toys at roadside....

A farmhouse, tiny windows, gently sways
beneath oval-carved clouds.

It is so easy to end up broke with no more
than an end-crust of pocked rye bread.

A farmer sweeps off a black-dust bed,
sets aside his father's blood-wet eagle head cane.

On the westward downslide of a rutted two-track,
a boy in a careening pickup listens to his heart begin to race.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Memory Lift 'n Sweep



Memory Lift 'n Sweep

          I

The tumbling-boozed man's breath in his daughter's hair
as he tucks her into bed... drops a coyote hide over her....
And a wild-haired woman spreads baked apples
across a scarred maple table.

          II

An old heavy-jowled man piles a black chair
on top of a crate of picture albums.
The benediction of a house soon to be burned
for new tenants... corn instead of cattle.
Blue flames, a curling sepia image of a pale calf,
the click of a fingernail on treasured driftwood.

          III

The man is skinning squirrels and his bride
is rubbing flour on the carcasses
to remove most of the hairs.
The daughter asks her father for a goodnight kiss.
This is the distance between two coyote pups
pawing each other in a den.  This is the bump-rattle
of a kicked-out barn door dragged to a clearing
in mulberry woods.  This is fire-crackle.


*  This poem, an earlier version of it, under the title "Mow," appeared in Dacotah Territory: A 10 Year Anthology (published in 1982 by the North Dakota Institute for Regional Studies), edited by MarkVinz and Grayce Ray.  This version is much revised.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Happy Birthday, Billy the Kid



Happy Birthday, Billy the Kid
(November 23, 1859 - July 14, 1881)

It'll be in the sixties, sunny, later today
near your Fort Sumner grave....
Tourists' salty tears will splat dry ground.
They've seen the movie.  Or all the movies.
There's always someone who believes
he bought one of your boots or a tooth.
So much of the past is crippled memory
blackened from bitterness or for profit.
Postcards a dollar, knock-off Billy sombrero
with a Chinese dog skin vest?  Ninety-nine bucks.
Oh, the turns of reckless, hungry youth,
girls and borders, pistolero nights... cantina songs:
we live with deaf ears for the smell of gunpowder.
All too often the law is a bent-back whorish lie.


This poem for Billy the Kid, and other bio-sketch poems, are included in Ghosts & Birthdays, a book of Red Shuttleworth poems published by Humanitas Media Publishing in 2012... available on Amazon.






Thursday, November 17, 2011

The Cinderella Game



The Cinderella Game

She's sweaty, dizzy on a pink bed
after another day of door-to-door
make-up sales to rumor-defiled women.
It's a Motel 6: stand-up shower
with a fatigue bench, free shampoo.

Put your ear to the hard ground.
In some spots you'll hear the bubbling
Amargosa River running down below.
Pioneer's now a ghost town.
Once it had three newspapers,
three opera houses, seven churches,
twelve brothels.  Pioneer lasted one year.

No clothes, no embarrassment, she opens
the door, no man's brown-eyed blonde
in a white Mustang.  Lonesome Jack,
druggy-thin neck of a rock star,
a quarter mile south of plain drunk,
found a black plastic bag filled
with lukewarm burgers in a dumpster.
Suicide is a daydream embellishment.


*  This poem is included in a 2010 Red Shuttleworth poetry chapbook, Drug Store Vaquero (Phoenix: The Basement).

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

In Barstow



In Barstow

The mother scrubs plates with a tea-brown sponge
as children sword fight with table legs.
The books on the shelves are arranged by color.
In the garage there's a work-scarred saddle
and stacks of string-tied Vogue and Elle magazines.
She toils nights serving cheeseburgers to tourists
living on spinach-green pills they wash
down with watery beer.  Lonely truckers sometimes
say her gold-plated anklet from El Paso is cute,
but Hud is never coming in his pink Cadillac.
Chris Isaak sings You Took My Heart
on the radio from outer space...
and her kids smash another set
of water glasses stolen from work.
The bitter marrow of a dead marriage
is on her tongue, but she has a mind
to buy that hemp mini-dress,
get some of that shank bone soup
education at the junior college.


*  This poem is included in a 2010 Red Shuttleworth poetry chapbook, Drug Store Vaquero (Phoenix: The Basement).

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Postcard to Kay Boyle

Kay Boyle
Palo Alto, California, 1978 or 1979


Postcard to Kay Boyle

Dear Kay,  The Revolution never arrived.
Tonight, far off, flames are singing
to a black sky, a Gaelic god's
shameless indifference.  The half-inspired
novelist-revolutionaries you fed
on Frederick Street are now sixty-something,
glum in Tenderloin hotels stacked with tales
no one will publish.  A few have chucked words
to craft strawberry-scented candles
on the Mendocino coast... and their meth-addled
children hate the patchouli stench of them.
I hope you have forgiven me for using
your letter of introduction to Beckett
to light a turf fire in Donegal.  Kate bakes
brownies as if our kids are still at home.
I spend nights walking toward a fire
maybe fifteen miles across high desert.
God love you, Kay.  Never slack-jawed,
never too weary to insist on marzipan
for every living soul, you were beautiful
as soft Irish rain.  Where you are,
I hope you have settled in with your beloveds,
Joyce, McAlmon, Beckett, and Ernest Walsh...
and that Hemingway is not
there to taunt you.  Love, Red


*  This poem is included in Red Shuttleworth's 2010 poetry chapbook, Drug Store Vaquero (Phoenix: The Basement).

Postcard to Jerry L. Crawford

Playwright Jerry L. Crawford


Postcard to Jerry L. Crawford

Dear Jerry,  We're at the radiant-blood precipice,
tumbleweeds snagged by barb wire.  Yesterday,
as daybreak floated across rock and sagebrush,
someone left a blood-dripping, gut-and-lung shot
coyote in a shopping cart in the Moses Lake
Wal-Mart parking lot.  The cart boy, Brent,
was dispatched to have a look.
It didn't fucking starve to death, he told his boss
before phoning me.  This is not, Jerry,
theatre for castratos of The New Yorker variety.
As I rolled up in my cherry-red Mustang,
chewing tobacco, listening to the Cowboy Junkies,
Brent was laying a couple of large black plastic bags
over the bullet-riddled carcass in the cart.
It caught me in its gaze, Brent whined,
like I was the pimplehead who shot it.
I told him to shut up.  A crowd was gathering.
Then the wind lifted the bags and they spun
off the cart and a clownish girl, with orange hair
and a black dog collar, began dancing.
A guy in the crowd snapped, For Christ's sake,
Nina, we came here for groceries and beer!
So Brent pushed the dead coyote cart
around to the back of the store, dumped the coyote
at the edge of the lake where we buried it
with brand new, soon-to-be-on-sale shovels.
It's a bit like baseball, Jerry:
where the head goes, the body follows.
We're almost over the wall, Red


*  This poem is contained in a 2010 Red Shuttleworth poetry chapbook, Drug Store Vaquero (Phoenix: The Basement).

Postcard to Julie Jensen

Playwright Julie Jensen


Postcard to Julie Jensen

Dear Miss Julie,  Gust of arctic wind and I shamble
into an all-night roadside cafe.  My casual seizures
of inappropriate rage or amusement are twenty years
north of Vegas and Red Rock.  In one booth
a couple of kinds are mutually glazed
with denim 'n leather seduction.  Up the aisle
there's a girl with frizzed blonde hair,
blue fingernails, and kippered face,
bred LDS-upright and tamped down,
wickedly perfumed, trembling over coffee...
a character from one of your plays?
The waitress jingles and scuffs toward me
with a dog-eared menu, grins like a rock chuck.
Unshaven for days and not a fraction rich,
I still listen to my lunatic heart.
My waitress has cigarette burns in her voice.
She's stoned, chewing gum.  I order
a night's sleep covered with a buffalo robe.
She serves me charred bacon and a gooey
fried egg, says, as if I've invited her to bed,
I don't trust guys in snap shirts and trophy buckles.
She's ice rain on warped corral boards.
Julie, you know the bump
of this country.  Love, Red


*  This poem is contained in a 2010 Red Shuttleworth chapbook, Drug Store Vaquero (Phoenix: The Basement).

They Say the Lonesome Road

Red Shuttleworth east of Ely,,, 1999




They Say the Lonesome Road

A knife awkwardly dropped to a saloon floor....

Evening... the race for a matching pair of firm breasts....

The pinch-face clerk says, Drive safe....

The bet: the devil's memory is dim.

Just a money job, the wheaten-haired pole dance grimaces.

Heartless... granite-hard goodbye kisses....

A six-foot wooden coat ain't all that cheap.

The school marms, both genders, look exactly
like they'll look in thirty years... bowel constricted.

Reasons for barreling-out include backyards with clotheslines.

Eventually, it's true: diamond lights, no gold rings...
only back-bent old men with rough-carved canes.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Happy Birthday, Leopold Staff


Happy Birthday, Leopold Staff
(November 14, 1878 - May 31, 1957)

All that glitter-love, when times were best,
was best ignored... just the shit-soiled
pajamas of the Ubermensch. 

Silver cigarette case, wooden Franciscan crucifix,
half-starved children selling bathroom tile
lifted from bombed-out buildings.

An undulating purple dusk over Poland....
The cozy Marxist surfaces tarping brick rubble...
At least you sang on a chill evening.

A Running Break to Try to Get Away



A Running Break to Try and Get Away

The faces of wolves flicker in a pewter-black storm sky.
Orange slices, cube of cheddar, whiskey for dinner.

Someone told me, but I lost track of the number
of out-of-gas pickups abandoned in Death Valley.
Missing blow-dried people.  Errant statistics.
Or... the yawp of Vegas showgirls receiving intermission roses.

I daydream in the face of emails.
Disposable cameras and broken cowboy heartbreak-bones
nursed with whiskey on the highway bypassing a sour
burn barrel of a motel with a huge plastic buffalo out front.

The party-hard girl in a tissue-thin white lace dress
tosses a crooked grin, You ain't an altar boy type, are you?
Graveyard gates as ash piles, drought-thirsty cattle on loading day,
transient scented-candle girls: decades of jerked beef and biscuits.

It's the quiet of a thin old man selling heads of lettuce
in the cracked parking lot of a farm supply store,
crescent moon bruises on his face and scrawny arms.
If paradise is forty miles of grassy barb wire fence line,
a can of Copenhagen, a horse familiar with Hoyt Axton lyrics....

It's the way Beaver, Utah, looks like heaven at summer dusk,
clean motel room and a dusty Main Street pawn shop,
if you've driven alone from Ely through a thunderstorm,
crystal blue-ghosts at lonesome Frisco Peak.

The word Today arrives road-bitten bloody.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Leafless Shadows

Red Shuttleworth and Wolfie


Leafless Shadows

Moon-bright silent grass:
George Washington, dreary night,
curls in the arms of his neighbor's wife,
sobs for less weight on his chest.

Soul of iron filings:
Andrew Jackson rips and burns
newspapers, They carry no warmth.

Bundles of stars on the backs of cattle:
his skin new-suit-itchy, Tom Mix
pulls the make-up girl close,
Who the hell says I'm wooden?

Baby oil lightly spread on baby-smooth skin:
Marilyn Monroe stands breakfast-naked
at a sixth floor Reno hotel window,
performs fifty perfect jumping jacks.

Scraped-from-the-hide meat in a fry pan:
Herbert Hoover, tired of Dust Bowl photographs,
yowls and bangs a Kodak gift camera
off his desk until called to tea.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Appendix Operation



Appendix Operation

Masks conceal motives.
A doctor said it would be
like piloting my own fighter jet.
Over my nose the forced
a turtle's hump of ether.

My stepfather floated
past the table of leather straps.
Holding my baseball card collection,
he slid open the fireplace screen.
Dusty Rhodes, Mickey Mantle,
Jerry Coleman, and dozens
of outfielders were flame-licked.

I returned home to find
the ashes of the Chicago Cubs
saved in the freezer
in a plastic box
next to a broccoli carton.


*  This poem, recently uncovered, was written in 1973. 

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Happy Birthday, Albert Camus



Happy Birthday, Albert Camus
(November 7, 1913 - January 4, 1960)

Tonight stars glitter on a two-lane blacktop,
a moment with no headlights... to remember your words.
Car window down, my eyes watering, this high desert
night blows a pack's worth of Gauloises smoke at me.
Yes, it is best to live for the new and the superficial,
their divisions and the cobwebs that marry them.
Yes... no truths, only objects for love:
that bottle of tequila, that girl with ice-silver eyes
this rattling squirrel-dead road, that betrayed heart.
Caligula returns and returns and Caligula returns.
Long forgotten: the pair of Corinthian temples,
cheek to jowl, for Violence and for Necessity.
The stars are pearl earrings.  The stars are
tiny onions. The stars are blood diamonds.
Yes, kicked doors, baffled priests,
lonesome hotels with freckled banana walls,
and executioners. Yes, extreme experience in solitude.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

You'd Be Damned Lucky



You'd Be Damned Lucky

A sandwich board kid practices cajolery on an empty street.

School is an empty bottle around the bend.

I once saw a statue of Jesus weep blood.
The guy showing the movie put his heart into fraud.
The girl I was with took pictures... tried not to laugh.
Sorrow is a field of fractured dream-bones.

Maybe emptied high desert towns are private journeys.

Torn realtor shoes decay at the pink bottom of an empty pool.



Saturday, October 29, 2011

Happy Birthday, Kostas Karyotakis



Happy Birthday, Kostas Karyotakis
(October 30, 1896 - July 20, 1928)

They placed no flowers on your dead man's bed.
The other poets of your time laughed at your
azure solitude, too stone-eared to know
your poems were the pain of the absolute-new.
Syphilitic, five-hour failure at drowning yourself,
you spent your last money on a rust-pocked pistol.
Your final poems were landlord-crumpled,
tossed into a maggoty garbage bin.
You sang for skinny window-children
doubled-up in sorrow, for waste-away brides
waiting for war-maddened husbands,
for mothers bearing graveyard lilies.
You scribbled orange-moon sad poems by night,
you desire-stunted, pathetic, servile clerk,
you angel of rosy-marble cemetery aspiration.
From the corners of your glassy eyes,
you caught the half-hidden diamond-sparkle
in a farewell-scatter of oblivion-bound dirt.

Norman H. Russell

 Norman H. Russell
March 1981
Fairbury, Nebraska


Norman H. Russell

No poet saw more of his poems appear in literary journals between 1970 and 1985 than Norman H. Russell.

News was carried to me recently that Russell died on May 14th of this year at age 89.

An internationally respected botanist, Russell began his poetry career relatively late... in his late forties... after taking a teaching post at Central State University in Edmond, Oklahoma.  He had made his name as an expert in the violet.  Although Russell had been a devoted reader of poetry, he only felt the impulse to write his own poems after  becoming a regular patron of the public zoo in Oklahoma City.  The first poems were about those zoo animals.  But soon Russell was writing out of his Cherokee ancestry.


 Night Dog and Other Poems
by Norman H. Russell
(Cottonwood Review, 1971)

Norman H. Russell's poems appeared in, literally, hundreds of magazines.  Some of them were dreadful.  Russell didn't seem to care.  He wrote a batch of poems... he sent out a batch of poems.  New journals appeared every month.  There were dozens of new journals launched every month in the early seventies.  Anybody within a few miles of a Xerox machine could start a magazine.  Most of those magazines died early. Some were good, a few were great, most were packed with mediocre-at-best poetry.  Russell did not appear to care about a magazine's reputation.

Frequently Russell published poems in most of the distinguished magazines of that period, including Ann Arbor Review, Crazy Horse, Dakotah Territory, Denver Quarterly, The Georgia Review, Ironwood, Kansas Quarterly, Laurel Review, Massachusetts Review, Nimrod, The Ohio Review, Poetry Northwest, Poetry Now, Poetry Texas, Prairie Schooner, Roanoke Review, South Dakota Review, Southern Humanities Review, Texas Portfolio, Virginia Quarterly Review, and Wisconsin Review. 


 The Longest March
by Norman H. Russell
(Nebraska Review Chapbook, 1980)

Norman H. Russell, writing out of his sense of himself as Cherokee and  humanist, wrote jewel-like poems... incantations toward reconciliation of man with nature.  Many young poets of the seventies admired Russell... he was a hero of poetry.  The Literati, though, were not quite prepared to adore, much less offer respect and homage, to Russell or his poems.  Perhaps Russell was too prolific, made writing great poems seem too easy, for the literary establishment.  The bastards of the Literati never fully embraced Norman H. Russell... no more than they embraced, for instance, Charles Bukowski.  Russell did not seem to care.  He sent his poems out... magazines published most of them. More than a dozen Norman H. Russell chapbooks and books appeared 

Luckily I came to know Russell's work and eventually became friends with him.  

In the early eighties, he got me a poetry reading at Central State University, where he was vice president for academic affairs.  I stayed with Russell and his wife, Arline, and we had a grand time.  Russell saw that I carried, as was my habit in those days, a sack of baseballs and a couple of gloves and two or three Louisville Slugger bats in the trunk of my car.  I was in my thirties.  Russell was decades older than me, but he insisted on playing catch.  So there we were on Thrush Circle in Edmond, Oklahoma, tossing a baseball back and forth for half an hour, talking poetry.  Russell had a fine arm, even at age 59, and moved fluidly and received the ball with soft hands.  We played catch... not fetch.  

His Edmond neighbors were not so happy that Russell had turned against mowing his property... had restored it to its natural state, encouraging local rattlers and coyotes and deer to live beside him... and near his nervous neighbors.  

Norman H. Russell bushwhacked a trail for many Native American poets.  He was the first Indian to publish poetry widely.  He supported the growth of many poets, Indian and non-Indian, and helped more than a few gain publication.  Norman H. Russell was extraordinary in his generosity toward young poets... including me.

One can only hope, with the passing of Russell, an appropriate university press will take on the assembling and publication of a large collection of Norman H. Russell's best poems.

From Star to Leaf:
Selected Poems of Norman H. Russell
(Mr. Cogito Press - Pacific University, 1995)


Norman H. Russell books and chapbooks (an incomplete bibliography):

At the Zoo, JRD Publishing company, 1969

Night Dog and Other Poems, Cottonwood Review, 1971

Indian Thoughts, Blue Cloud Quarterly, 1972

Russell: The Man, The Teacher, The Indian, Northwoods Press, 1974

Open the Flower, The Perishable Press, 1974

Indian Thoughts: A Great Chief, BkMk Press, 1975

Indian Thoughts: The Children of God, University of California - Los Angeles, 1975

Indian Thoughts: My Journey, Blue Cloud Quarterly, 1980

The Longest March, Nebraska Review (chapbook #3), 1980

From Star to Leaf: Selected Poems of Norman H. Russell, Mr. Cogito Press - Pacific University, 1995

Friday, October 28, 2011

Purple Dying-Town Shadows



Purple Dying-Town-Shadows

Old time electric chair on sale.

Speedy Sunday picture shows
whir in the tight back storage room
of an abandoned filling station.

Airport memory: the surgical procedure
to remove tulips from poets' lungs.

Cemetery stone inscription: Bootmaker.

Beyond the local bar,
a mile of highway
patched with lipstick-stained paper napkins.

Yes, I found painful inspiration
in a cut-glass volume of Turgenev's First Love.

Baby, I like how you walk around the house,
kids grown and gone,
with only a tattered, shrunken turtleneck sweater on.

A cow-calf pair grazes a small corn stubble field on Main Street.

I ain't never gonna be anything but love-hungry.

No cafe.  But old, crumbling photographs of a cafe.

Afternoon whiskey in a jelly jar,
a woman shouts,
The sun seem louder than normal today?

After the discovery of fire,
school administrators organized
the burial of fire.

Them big ol' cardboard boxes
of astro-lawn squares...
the ones they got stored
in the old hotel...
they got some kind a weird
glow-in-the-dark fungus.

Running without lights on,
a county sheriff's cruiser
drifts up dark Main Street
to surprise any graffiti-maniacal
kid with a spray paint.

Three-thousand people lived here
'bout the time of the last
public hanging.

Over a dozen cans of Eagle brand peaches acquire
dust in a locked cabinet at the old funeral parlor.

Wanderin' poet? 
Ought to be 'shamed a yourself
for that silliness.

At the back end of the graveyard,
a rusty shovel in sagebrush.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Jarbidge, Nevada



Jarbidge, Nevada

The last stagecoach hold-up went down
here... a quarter mile up the dirt road.
The Shoshone called this Bad Spirit Canyon.

The Red Dog Saloon's closed.
So's the school.
Bev takes me to the Open Air
for grilled rawhide,
a slice of cheese, on a bun.

The blonde barmaid's got a dozen tattoos.
She's a worn-from-patching-drywall twenty-five.
She's wearing a grease-stained
buff wife-beater, oil-splotched jeans.

The barmaid carries local blood:
iron-rich, yellowish basalt spires look down
on scraggy junipers, aspens, single-wides,
double-wides, collapsing log cabins,
a dozen grannies and grandpas
stirring Main Street on 4-wheelers.

This is where a rattler wrapped itself
around the leg of a weed-whacking grandson,
then let go after a half-hearted,
no-venom-through-the-toenail bite.


* This poem is included in Red Shuttleworth's 2011 chapbook, We Drove All Night, published by Finishing Line Press.  The chapbook is available through the publisher or from Amazon.

Like a One-Eyed Rockabilly Locksmith



Like a One-Eyed Rockabilly Locksmith

Solid grumbling-drive
'n' take off
your glasses,
baby,
'n' loosen
your hair.
Around
the town square
we'll make
a bid
for love.

You're
sweeter
'n' a dozen
nailed-to-a-wall
sparklin' hubcaps.

I'm desperation
drunk
for your
skin, baby,
like blazin'-gentle
Crickets' songs.

A fence-breakin'
mean ol' bull...
not some
city
roll-of-toilet
paper-throwin'
meth-wobble boy.

What-say,
baby,
we find
our fringes,
like cafe-waltz
in blues-glide.

No...
I ain't
just packed
together
with athletic tape...
not completely.

Later
we can
scrub-off
in a warm
trough
of horse water,
let miseries
splash out.

Around
the town square,
the brickwork
a blur,
we are
coincidence-
fable...
naked,
grinding love:
the entire
cosmic slide
for heaven. 

Sunday, October 23, 2011

What is Said... Later



What is Said... Later

There was a sluggish breeze off the moon.

Ecstasy-lost, they bought expensive cowboy hats to even the score.

Please don't slice grapefruit on the kitchen table.

A glass of burgundy served to remind him
of startled deer running alongside his midnight car.

Analysis: after he fucked the actress on the hood
of her red sports car, her hairy armpits did not matter.
She transitioned to singer... learned to shave.

The plush gift shop coyote with purple eyes was not cute.
So he bought it for his dog to rip apart.

The rental cabins alongside the road had no running water.
But the girl had vintage lingerie and champagne to pop open.

Worst fear?  Ending life as a security guard at an onion soup factory.

I do not hard-boil eggs for you to throw them off
a strike zone painted on a stupid barn.

He eventually learned that marriage is not an old time TV beer commercial.

He awoke each morning like a 9-rounds-weary boxer.

That was his stalled-in-brain sadness
taking a nasty dump between his ear holes.

An actress-singer he once fucked phoned before dawn,
You were right after all... about one thing:
Canadian pineapple pizza is awesome.

He grew to love the smell of graveyard sagebrush.

Your dog does not need lathering-up with fancy
bubblebath shampoo once a summer month.

The longer he was separated from the prairie,
the less he thought dark chocolate was a cure for anything.

Roadside bar fights were redemptive...
even when he was properly thrashed.
















Monday, October 17, 2011

More Than a Hunch


More Than a Hunch

Bar stool blonde rolls beer-muddled eyes,
I can be packed quick... anybody headed
for Denver... even Lincoln or Omaha?
She grips the bar, raises bare feet onto it.

A homeless, kicked-from-the-nest, unemployed
cabinet maker begs the bartender,
You wouldn't take a man's last loose change,
would ya... hang a man from his own ceiling?

It's the curse of an incoming thunderstorm,
moving north into Holdrege from Kansas.
It's the bar stool blonde with a green apple
belly ache and a boy doing county jail time.

It's thirsty bones poking out of thistle patches.
It's the motel with half-washed black towels.
It's short of midnight and the bartender
says the blonde is a symbol of day care.

The blonde says it's bad water from hog farms,
says, It was limp-dick school teachers
who caused me to lose being Miss Hereford.
She bites her lip, scowls, looks fence-post-hard.

It's stolen-from-the clinic used needles.
It's the local obsession with sub soil moisture.
It's being a bar stool blonde among the dim.
Soon it's going to be a brick through a windshield.