Friday, March 30, 2012

Gone Last



Gone Last


The drop-outs of the sixties/seventies,
bloodless with the strain of too much money,
own houses crowded with what everyone else
does for laughs: finches in aluminum cages.
We shall wait until we are properly rested.


The best way is to be sent ahead.
Or to send oneself ahead.
Like a crated dog on a train,
suddenly freed on the rolling hills
of the Nebraska panhandle.

The boring are about
argument distilled into quaint
verse by MFA professors.
We shall wait for inspiration
at that coffee shop
where we discuss writing.












Headlights of Early Spring






Headlights of Early Spring


The adrift appears to be missing from your days.
Too settled with expectations of sunlight,
drunken phone calls from some other trail
you might have once ridden wild on.

The adrift met its dusk and now you watch
headlights at night through snow, sleet, rain.
Where heavy hours go black like a TV
in a power outage, perhaps someone
is scurrying about with a handful
of postcards printed on buffalo hides...
someone who has pots overflowing
with rain off a tin roof.

You send out your own postcards,
babble about the quality of frozen strawberries,
the shadows of musky girls, the hound's ambition
to become a cavity-filler like Doc Holliday.
You sign your name with boiled-down
raspberries... precious, rare ink
you won't find in the pens of bankers.

How to get your adrift back?
Pamphlet ads on steel farm structures
arrive and don't offer answers.
Deer run through the farmyard at night,
leave no clues.  Cattle knock on the door
with short horns and stare in bovine sympathy.
No matter what you look at these days,
all you see are headlights approaching...
headlights on blacktop... going elsewhere.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Wave After Wave After Wave



Wave After Wave After Wave

Songs of Before-the-Fall and of Passing-Desire,
you drink to a juke box of leftovers, lost voices of
I'll be at your side, baby.  You're at a foreign lake,
wind-crack from the northwest, waves like the sickness
of unreasonable hope about the what-lies-ahead.

          ***

Awake at dawn in a cabin beside a washed away
beach... rocks and an upturned iron bathtub outside.
Train echoes, mossy fabric arm chairs, torn curtains.
All of this could've been prevented, had you listened.
You are not in anybody else's lonesome: you own this.
It'd be something to walk audacious-naked into the sun.

          ***

Ever'body gets their narrow stretches.
And some get to be autumn stubble on high prairie
dirt layered over a ghost town... a lone tree for shelter.
You've shaken hands with age-fragile wanderers
abandoned in small other-side-of-the-ditch hotels.
You've followed their haggard-face stares enough
to know you are encased in your own mirror now:
the grass is high and vanilla ice cream white.
Someone's set your medicine on a rusty metal plate.

Monday, March 12, 2012

A Crazy Dash for Cover



A Crazy Dash for Cover

The sizzle of white-hot chains
or an over-baked frozen pizza:
it's the long drive on plastic,
grazing on plastic, plastic squints
from milk-skinned girls in sequined denim.

          ***

Bar and gift shop jobs turn
the body to putty, yellow the eyes,
crush the years until it's down
to a bare living room
at the shaky hands edge of town.

          ***

A day of piss ant thunderstorms.
Now, suddenly, as you walk the dog,
the gradual paling of moonlight
on late winter low clouds...
or Northern Lights.
You imagine you can
do better than a claw hold.

          ***

Someone you love or used to love
speaks of rattle-miles, sun flares,
broken front lawn motorcyles,
Ain't it time for some smuggled
'cross rocky ground happiness?

Friday, March 9, 2012

Pocket Full of Quarters




Pocket Full of Quarters

That tinny sound is coming from the clouds.
Yes, indeed, Whose idea was it to install fluorescent lights?

The first sign of  a crack-up is usually a compulsion
to order aqual tiles for the bathroom... bourbon for the hound.

Supper at the basketball coach's house consisted of,
after his wife left him, boiled plastic bags of hobo stew.

It was much better that year after I began parking
the 1976 emerald-green Ford Elite behind saloons.

It's pretty good advice: Don't trust everything you're told
over the phone, especially if a distant relative has a plan.

About that time we noticed that chain stores were getting eaten
by Walmart and that Walmart built ugly on perfectly beautiful pastures.

That musty in-store Walmart smell comes from the many
dried-sweat folds of fat belly skin that fat girls love to expose. 

So it was that we stood out in a thunderstorm, palms up,
grinning over our modest luck: our best mirrors were shattered. 

Thursday, March 8, 2012

We Could Be in Prague... Or in a Tiny Vienna Graveyard



We Could Be in Prague... Or in a Tiny Vienna Graveyard

Looking at travel brochures at the feed and farm supplies store,
we fabricate and fabulate: light sinks green through the branches
of scraggly, stunted pines... drops from stone ledge to slate roofs.
A throaty girl sings of twitchy-dream night.  The yellow bones of a poet
dance with a pillow held tight to a rib cage.  A euphoric Irish
tourist girl with silver hoop earrings, rose-pink cheeks,
kisses a moonlit statue of a horseman.  Oh... waxy time.

We could be in potato-colored envelopes,
self-mailed from the American West,
opened by a sketchy jurist in Prague or Vienna,
They're not bearable... those Yanks in cowboy hats.
We could be tossed out the jurist's window to the street,
picked up by a blonde in cut-offs and see-through blouse
on her way to a graveyard fashion shoot to illustrate
the salt sandwich the poor suffer to swallow
as bankers make a run for it... all the way
to boutiques offering thick leather winter jackets.

We could be what we are, shoppers for dog kibble,
a birthday card for a friend, spools of electric fence wire,
six-packs of sugary diabetes-coming-soon soda pop.
We could be on fire... as we were decades ago.
We could shake each other under a flaring sun,
treat ourselves to bottled oranges in light syrup
We could lie, roll our shopping cart, and say,
The people who eat Tuna Helper probably like it. 

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Parachute for the Champagne


Red Shuttleworth
(Galveston County, Texas, 1976
photo by Don Thornton)



Parachute for the Champagne

The magic is to make a gift
from cereal box cardboard.
Nothing that bites.

That was in the country
of hooves-up
bloated old dairy cows.

The magic is heightened
for those who can afford
maroon curtains
from bankrupt mom 'n pop
small town grocery stores.

We are within what is called
a heavy sky,
weighted down
by the many paws
of some god's
frantic bird dogs.
What to retrieve...
what to retrieve.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Cities of Abdication

Red Shuttleworth




Cities of Abdication

Years past scenic overlooks and spilled bourbon:
hotel rooms with thin towels... tallow-stink soap.

You're acquainted with ice cream jeans.
One cannot forget old oak-framed mirrors.

A raw white sun rises like revenge-fire.
Low ceiling, false-luxury, metallic hotel rooms.

Then there's the happy dream of picking up
booze store boxes for a wobbly move to prairie.