Sunday, December 30, 2012
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...
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 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
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
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
January clouds arrive a week early,
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
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 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
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
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.