Sunday, December 30, 2012

Ice-Burdened Moonlight

Ice-Burdened Moonlight

For half-inch cubes of cheddar cheese,
the Wolfhound lumbers, nearly three-legged
by my side... no wind... twenty-three degrees:
we have no need for first light in this moonlight
on thin snow over ice.

                                    We are talking best times:
puppy-ripped Tony Lama boots, pissing rugs,
chewing mail, dragging ragged blankets
through the house, barking at UPS drivers,
hard-'n-fast sweaty three-miles runs
through sagebrush, the blood-song folk music
of coyotes, bribe-biscuits at the veterinarian's....

I am explaining how Marc Chagall's blue
is different from Pollock's car-paint blue.
The Wolfhound lurches, huffs, steps wooden
around the trunks of non-native pines
that did not make it on this shrub steppe.

The Wolfhound pauses to listen
to an hour-late train bound for Seattle.
I speak of dining cars: butter-fried eggs,
marmalade on whole wheat golden toast,
orange juice in crystal goblets,
motion-dazzled passengers just awake
from dreams of a'horseback ancestors.

The Wolfhound listens to me,
because that's part of his provisional job,
something to pass crumpled time with...
before he flies into a moonless, eternal night.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

A Few Days...

A Few Days...

The  hours braid and snap... dawn after night.
You watch the middle-aged Wolfhound's eyes
medication-glaze, his thoughts thick and unsaid.
The biscuits appear stacked against him now.
You gently massage his cancerous left wrist,
that front leg and its new knob, ask him,
What do you make of au currant girls
who add blonde streaks to brown hair?
The Wolfhound has always enjoyed
your lame questions.  The winter-hard
ground out back has a four-foot deep hole.
You open the refrigerator, slowly unwrap
aluminum-foiled slices of roast beef,
watch as he struggles upright...
a study of will over pain and dopey-brain.
He stumbles at you, dislocated,
a bit of wild happiness yet in his heart...
some appetite left to gulp sliced cow,
a touch of Irish canine bravado
to mock your fear for him.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

GHOSTS & BIRTHDAYS: A Collection of Poems by Red Shuttleworth

Ghosts & Birthdays

poems by

Red Shuttleworth

A new collection of poems by Red Shuttleworth, Ghosts & Birthdays, is available from the publisher, Humanitas Media Publishing... and from other online sources (Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other book sellers).

Many of the poems in this book first saw publication in distinguished literary journals, including Aethlon, Blue Mesa Review, Chattahoochee Review, Concho River Review, Interim,
Los Angeles Review, and Suisun Valley Review.

The poems in Ghosts & Birthdays offer penetrating, sometimes visceral, sometimes poignant elegies to a variety of heroes and villains, including Mikhail Lermontov, Gustav Klimt, Wyatt Earp, Georgia O'Keefe, Sergei Yesenin, Hank Williams, Albert Camus, Marilyn Monroe, Ernest Hemingway, Norman Mailer, Sonny Liston, Ted Williams, Elvis Presley, Kay Boyle, and Hunter S. Thompson.

A prolific poet and playwright, Red Shuttleworth is a three-time recipient of the Spur Award for Poetry from Western Writers of America, for Johnny Ringo in 2013, Roadside Attractions in 2011, and for Western Settings in 2001.

The cover of Ghosts & Birthdays features a painting of Marilyn Monroe by Red Shuttleworth's poet-painter daughter, Ciara Shuttleworth.

Feeble Breeze and Freezing Mist

Feeble Breeze and Freezing Mist

A glass of fat-free milk
on its kitchen-table side...
like a memory room-corner curled...
and brown hound eyes whisper,
Stop slouching around the house.

In a dim room,
you bend and cut time
into crinkled aluminum strips
to frame stained-glass...
toward a homemade
saint who never was...
never will be.

All the clocks are bashed-in.
Someone will have to phone
when night fades into light.

Do not offer the hound
an alibi for your enormous
sentimentality... worthless
as a cracked crystal dish
of stale butterscotch candies.

No... instead offer a better-days
Western snap shirt, bunched
to make a small pillow.

The Price of Cheerful

The Price of Cheerful

January clouds arrive a week early,
linen-lipped... ready
to soak-up the blood
on mileage markers.

Rubber swords and hula hoops:
you are too old to be a tricked dog.

Also: no one remembers
ahead of time
being lost in one's own basement.

Snow... and you blow your nose
into an anguish handkerchief,
not yet bundled homeward
in funeral rags.

Which brings us to stories
of rust-stained tubs
in studio apartments
for those who've rolled
at least one SUV.

January clouds say,
I tried.  I waited for you.

Later... silence comes
after a huge flat screen TV
flutters off a wall
like a hyper-sonic butterfly.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

The Droll Impossible

The Droll Impossible

Some night when snow is way up
against the door, they'll remember
your madcap motion.  You believe so.

Panic-wishes, like for six more
months of wild life, are sawed down
as easily as rotted barn wood boards.

You see the grave hand-dug for you,
the bottle of Kessler's whiskey they will pour
over your cancer-broken Wolfhound carcass.

Life, friends, is ethereal...a plain calico
dream, a dream-sunset in distant foothills.
In last weeks, your porous leg bones creak.

Only by chance, by a random cup of stardust,
will you see your beloved humans again,
perhaps in a cosmic mirror of rosy-pale marble.

You are doped-up, slant-down on hound bed.
You are belly-full of steak, and know you have
given heart enough so that they may weep honestly.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Autumn Chronograph: 90

Autumn Chronograph: 90

Autumn bangs a chair off a door at snowy four a.m.,
an end to clarity beyond the doped-up, dozing
Wolfhound with a bone cancer left ankle.
He will not sing in April, not for love or burger.
What do you expect from December, indulgence?

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Woodbury Novel

Woodbury Novel

The woods     on either July side      of Painter Hill Road
are ripe-green,     hunter green,     lime-memory green.
It is     Connecticut:     summer-drunk houses,     Yale
men,     tolerated celebrities,     new mud-murky ponds.

The boy     is ushered     into a rectangular room.
Wicker furniture.     An elephant's foot stool
that will sell     at Christies     for thousands
when the next     century     cuts into life's dance.

Tonight     the boy,     nine,     has a babysitter.
She is     sixteen...     in khaki shorts,     blue polo shirt.
Her mother     serves     coconut cookies...     milk.
It is     the hour     the sun     slow-falls on copperheads.

The babysitter     opens     the elephant's foot stool:
week old     copies :     The Wall Street Journal.
The boy     stares     at the newspapers     until
the girl     laughs,     slams     the foot's lid     down.

The boy's     mother     and stepfather
are taking     Arthur and Marilyn     to dinner
to make up     for blurted     curses    when the boy
was caught     ruining     poolside     oak furniture.

Your parents,     the babysitter applies     lipstick,
are not     really     your     real     parents.
Her lips     are Sunday school     colonial-crimson.
Marilyn and Arthur     are so...     forgiving.

The babysitter's     mother     looks in,     smiles.
The babysitter's     name     is Hope     or Faith...
or Eleanor.     The father     fishes     in Canada
or Africa.     He sells Cadillacs     or stocks.

Babysitter Hope     wants     to swim     in the pond.
Have you     ever     gone     swimming     so alone
you can see     yourself     from a far off      star?
The boy     realizes     he is mouth-open    chewing.

Babysitter Faith's     eyes     are green     bones.
You aren't     scared     of water     are you?
She has     the only     flashlight...     faint amber
on the water,     You're not     from important blood.

The boy     thinks     her voice    raindrops
on crystal.     He pulls     jockey shorts     higher,
inches into     the pond,     onto pebbles,     fist-rocks.
The darkness     thickens     on his     lemony fear.

The boy     imagines he     will walk     his springer-mutt
up the abandoned     fern-besotted     road     the next day.
Babysitter Eleanor-Faith-Hope     two-hands     his head
underwater.     How dare you     misbehave     at Marilyn's?

He shivers     stretched on wicker     under blankets.
The babysitter     is beside him,     her arms     tight
around his skinny     chest.     The trees outside     are black.
The elephant foot     has four     neatly trimmed toenails.

When the boy     is collected,     his mother     gushes
as if     someone's     bleeding     has been     arrested.
His stepfather     smells     like a schoolboy's      ill-used
chemistry set,     A month's savings     in concrete shoes!

Patches     of memory     come thicket-torn     to the boy:
the stepfather's     Hudson Hornet,     Hope's pearly     skin,
his mother's     East 73rd Street     post-divorce     apartment.
One shack-trapped     August,     the boy     will be sixty...

in a flash-blast     thunderstorm,     watching headlights
on a desert     road,     listening     for something     certain,
like the clatter-bang     of a bad-shocks     GMC pick-up
bouncing over     a cattle guard     far from Connecticut.

Ethereal wedding aisle,     foreign stamps     to hobby-glue
on a wastebasket,     Junior League     money-stubble charity
work in Bethlehem     or New Haven:     Hope will be     memory,
false or elaborate...     her arms     around     his drowning.      


Saturday, December 1, 2012

Vladivostok Novel

Vladivostok Novel

Paper money     not worth burning,     she is dumb
with cold     her feet meat slabs.    Three days ago
the Red Army in Perm.     Fires.     This Tatar
taking gold     from her father     to save her.

He saves her     for a field     of ripped clothes.
They are     north of Vladivostok.   The Tatar
dances drunk     on his horse,     digs gold
from the teeth     of the dead.     Some he sliced open.

No bath.     The Tatar says,     You cabbage-stink
pussy.     She walks     behind his horse
to the docks:     Vladivostok.  The Red Army
weeks     or days     behind     holding executions.

The ship's captain     gives the Tatar     passage
for two.     You must only     kill by permission.
The Tatar     grins-maniacal.     In the Sea of Japan
men are stabbed,     hefted overboard:     no-moon sea.

The Tatar     owns a fine     lady's leather  purse
for ears,     fingers,     tongues,     parts private.
He slaps her     each dawn     so that she might
appreciate     each day.     And she prays.

The ship     leaks.     It is made from rust.
Water rationed by teaspoons.     The Tatar
advises,     Suck the bones clean...  
chew long,     and longer     the rat's bones.

She prays.     All there is:     heart-punch-loss.
Dreams of Perm...  her mother...  her dead brother
hanging     butcher-shop skinned.... the Reds.
It is 1922     like Siberian wind     upon Vladivostok.

Of two-hundred,     three-dozen     step onto land.
The Philippines.     The Tatar     buys her a brush,
laughs     at her louse-filled    waist-length
strawberry-blonde hair...     saws it off with a knife.

Dear Reader,     no more     louse-crawl pages...
maggot-filled bodies.     No.     Only sweet silence...
fog... San Francisco... a hospital bed... a baby
daughter      the Tatar     names     Anna.

Anna is reading     her unpublished     Vladivostok novel
to Andy Warhol.     New York: sooty     1960 summer.
I don't think,     Andy squirms     over a silkscreen,
bodice rippers     are happy     soul songs.