Monday, April 30, 2012

Shapes of the Stricken

A Ciara Shuttleworth photograph



Shapes of the Stricken


My debut as a gnarled, twisted
dead sagebrush is down the line.
Federal authorities won't bother
to look into my dedication to earth.
Cattle trucks will roll past,
horsemen rich from in-kind donations
will spit Red Man juice in my direction,
and my appearance on a postcard
will coincide with friends making
the most of it with anthology appearances.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Anti-Hero as Painted Background



Anti-Hero as Painted Background

Love leaves as deep-blue storm light
conflated with fanciful dreams of old lovers.
We are occupants in self-hotels of  chicken wire,
cheap pine boards, chips of dried clay,Styrofoam,
bras and panties and Western snap shirts tossed
from get-away cars with derelict mufflers.

This is when we are life-size.  In the before-land,
answered prayers and pictures from arcades,
we stood tall enough to gaze over mountains.
Not really, but now we feel blocky, clumsy
in personal relations that do not require a Stetson,
trophy belt buckle, matching Colt .45 pistols.

When we tell others about love, its geometry
of wordplay and cobalt-blue daydreams,
we get shaky and tilt into the past tense.
The young pink-tinged girls we knew long ago
eventually phone, email, or request us as friends
on Facebook... just to say,  Gauge me now,
sonofabitch, or, Your presence was too thick
for what I was mistakenly going through then.

You are staring at the ceiling at an art party,
or film party, or, in a dry spell, at a poetry party...
when love arrives with a backward tumble
that spills your drink on her razzle-dazzle dress.
You are that slab of rock portrayed as dangerous...
upstage of where the actors and action will be.
She takes you home because you embody
a manly tradition she can only give soft focus to...
from her ero-terminus (clunky bogus-brass bed).
She reminds you of how to mimic yourself.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Lost World of Horse-Drawn



Lost World of Horse-Drawn


You see it in the eyes of mounted deer heads,
saloons of poetry's source materials:
barmaids in thin cotton gym shorts,
muted TV screens in strip mall offices
where kitschy shit-heels gossip
and namedrop planning commission names...
and you see it lined up for firing squads
at non-season traveling carnivals.

In the heyday of it all,  when things mattered,
stovepipe hats had arrows through them.


Monday, April 23, 2012

Punch-Outs & Love: History-on Strings


Punch-Outs & Love: History-on-Strings


a new Red Shuttleworth poetry chapbook

is now available 
from
Theatre in My Basement
(Christopher Danowski, Artistic Director)
Phoenix, Arizona

or...
if  you know Red Shuttleworth
a copy can be obtained from him

Saturday, April 14, 2012

On Track



On Track

Dare you to put an ear to electric fence wire.

At sixty-seven a man cannot remember
a single gadget from childhood.

I am walking... sometimes loping around
a .3-mile track in my sagebrushy north pasture.
I am waiting for the rapture of dog laughter.
Solemn black cows offer weak perspective
to what the sweep of sunlight means.

Though he does not know it, Wang Wei
walks beside me, huffing and puffing poems.

My body contains Mongolian and Gaelic rain.

At sixty-eight a man names horses he will not
ride in the next package-of-bones century.

Sometimes I jog a few steps to feel the wreckage
we are born towards... or to steal lies from the dead.
I am waiting for a thunderstorm with oranges for hail.
Sometimes I weep for the fragility of coyotes.
I own all the flimsy excuses of a second rate accountant.

Wang Wei walks beside me, praises honey in tea,
recites poems bright as ancient noon light.

There are dangerous love songs in electric fence wire.

Friday, April 13, 2012

One Week Past a Full Moon



One Week Past a Full Moon


I pull off the road, puzzle Kate and the dog,
to snap a photo as ordinary as salt in the blood.
A distant ridge of volcanic rock.  Closer:
clumps of native grass and some sagebrush.
As ordinary as hand-weighing halved melons
while watching a butcher cut a roast down
to size for a couple with grown, gone children.
The standard American life: subject to purchase.

Wedges of cheese cake under plastic,
the obliteration of past-as-present,
a man short of seventy years stepping
onto a hilly field as if ambitious to scale
clouds yet to arrive in 1903 Nebraska....
Or... I keep driving on a narrow road
sudden with newly situated used single-wide
trailers for those in the general-good-times business:
bicycle repair, picture hook sales, cultural
connotations regarding breast augmentation.

My tread or another's tread... soon erased.
As if calculated from a ghost-passengers train.

Monday, April 9, 2012

More... Your Gunslinger Shadow Grows Amber



More... Your Gunslinger Shadow Grows Amber


To observe (absorb?)
the enduring dead...

(Mysterious Dave Mather
dead and wormy
in an Oakland flophouse
suggests the late work
of a civilized West...
and no mystery
beyond a need-of-cleaning
pistol mentioned
in the will)

...you must allow
yourself to be
a lone figure
--clouds
like concrete
pressing down--
breaking your
interior ceiling.

All that aged,
rotted
drywall
falling in chunks from heaven.

Bat Masterson
yet approaches his squarish
New York City journalist form.
Steak-clogged arteries.

These are primary
juxtapositions:
Old West
and walking pantomime.
What a goddamned trick:
levitation with the dead.

          -To the Memory of Ed Dorn



Sunday, April 8, 2012

High Plains Fandango: Production Photo's from SUNY Fredonia

Clayton Howe (O'Garr), Caitlin Molloy (Isabelle Roche),
Sean Marciniak (Louis Roche), Andrew Albigese (Moss),
and Claire Elise Walton (DQ)
in High Plains Fandango


High Plains Fandango: Production Photo's from SUNY-Fredonia

The premiere of High Plains Fandango at SUNY-Fredonia on February 24th exceeded by far my expectations.  Beautifully and faithfully directed by Tom Loughlin, performed by a sterling cast of young actors, this theatre experience gave me a happiness I'll carry through all my days.



Claire Elise Walton (DQ) and Andrew Albigese (Moss)
in High Plains Fandango

Jessica Drew-Cates (Aquinas) and Jonathan Dimaria (John Hooley)
in High Plains Fandango

Cassandra Giovine (Cinthia) and Clayton Howe (O'Garr)
in High Plains Fandango

Jessica Drew-Cates (Aquinas), Jonathan Dimaria (John Hooley)
and Nicolas Nieves (Father Ben)
in High Plains Fandango

Jonathan Dimaria (John Hooley) Tony Taylor (Ken Adams),
and Kelsey Rispin (Waitress)
in High Plains Fandango

Clayton Howe (Ken Adams) and Jessica Drew-Cates (Aquinas)
in High Plains Fandango

Cassandra Giovine (Cinthia), Andrew Albigese (Moss)
and Claire Elise Walton (DQ)
in High Plains Fandango

Nicholas Nieves (Father Ben) and Jessica Drew-Cates (Aquinas)
in High Plains Fandango

Clayton Howe (O'Garr) and Tony Taylor (Ken Adams)
in High Plains Fandango

Tony Taylor (Ken Adams)
in High Plains Fandango


Special thanks to Tom Loughlin for the photographs!


Easter Bunny: Audience as Reflex of Image



Easter Bunny: Audience as Reflex of Image

It is rumored that guns were pointed,
but no one shot the Easter Bunny.

There was talk of fact filled tooth decay.

A girl sporting blue spray-painted
Styrofoam beads goosed him as she ran past.

So many of us are beckoning trauma.

I declined when asked if I would pose for a snapshot
next to the Easter Bunny in my white Stetson.

The bunny was stingy with chocolates.

Easter Bunny suits are not cheap.
The work pays minimum wage.

It is customary to honk car horns at the bunny.

My girlfriend remembers frying sweet & sour
cottontail... and rabbit with Hamburger Helper.

Imagine a cloth bunny head super-glued to your head.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

When We Walk in Memory Between Fire and Late Spring Ice




When We Walk in Memory Between Fire 
and Late Spring Ice

It is best to rebel against one's appeal to others.
The other choice is impossible: limber stone.

Then there are gifts we thought we always wanted
all our lives, like asbestos rainbow-roses cowboy shirts.

Oh to have the luck of a wing-wide golden hawk
locating home in a wafer-thin polished bronze mirror.

Then there was our weekend in the cradle of the West,
Dodge City... continental motel breakfast and off-brand beer.

Someone in the saloon noted that 1950's wallpaper
tends to foreshadow the clouds in our future.

We skipped the Calamity Jane look-alike contest.
The ethical dilemma of Old West boutiques is dreary.

We also passed up the seminar on Doc Holliday's
enduring physicality under most trying circumstances.

I just wanted to gnaw on her as she lowered ragged
cut off jeans... lured, as I was, by her Greek-Irish smirk.

The Western dress-up fad, its entire shabby premise,
with its fake public personas, leads to psychotic episodes.

We did stumble into a ready-made love narrative: this afternoon
I was enthralled by droplets of rain on high desert rock... eternity.

Happy Birthday, Johannes Bobrowski



Happy Birthday, Johannes Bobrowski
(April 9, 1917 - September 2, 1965)

Yes, Johannes, we do, sooner or later,
sleep each other's sleep.  Like you,
I love villages at midnight...
or later when the saloons empty
into the commotion of shadows.
After five years in one of Stalin's
coal mines, wrung-out each night,
head bowed to poems-in-progress,
you loved to gorge on marbled beef
from the pastures of mother Prussia,
pastries, sweet bread, shots of cream.
Was it a sharp, half-chewed nut
that broke from your appendix...
forcing the journey across the river
to sleepwalk alongside Georg Trakl?
Young poets with rucksacks search
Germany for you in morning mist,
kids heavy with the imperative
of filling Moleskine notebooks
with scrape-by hikes along rivers.
We learn, eventually, at faint-last,
there is no Here to remain within,
no land of eternally full pantries.
Only the rivers remain...
older than poetry's first ink.