Four Poems (December 20, 2010. Issue 23.)
And then Billy explained to me the parts of the gun
Have her hold you how the holster holds the hip,
carrying so close to your hands
something to protect yourself.
Hold me how the holster holds the hip.
Carrying so close to my hands
something to protect myself.
In some songs
this body of mine still beats like a drum for yours.
Our skin was shed from the same single grass blade
The footsteps taken inside of me,
they run fast and echo long and loud.
I hear the floorboards in that house
under my feet,
and sometimes it is all I can do
to sit quietly in the middle of that cacophony.
In the summer nights
I open the windows and stare at the sky.
I can smell the jasmine on its wrists.
The gun’s caliber is .44,
its handle inlaid with pearl.
When I hold it
But every empty can on that fence
dead center in their labels.
I can hear the wind whistling
through them holes.
And all them shadows
whistle their way on as well.
The bicycle room
The man in the woods
holds his arms out like handlebars
and imagines someone riding him
like a bicycle
--some pretty girl
who could use her long hair to turn him magically.
She would shine him every day after school.
In the sunlight
he would look so pretty
turning in her hands.
One Saturday afternoon before I was born
I was building telescopes from Billy the Kid magazines.
There was an issue where Colonel Dudley had Billy and the Regulators trapped in a house and Dudley had his men set the house on fire. Damn that Colonel. But Billy the big bad water tower that he was broke out of there, escaped. The gang headed for the hills, crossed the mountains in one night, the stars like white animals too far to tell what they were. Billy and the boys hid out in Telegraph Cave. McSween was shot up pretty bad and asked Big Jim French to shoot him. What could Big Jim do? The two of them were like brothers. He went outside so no one would see him cry. They had to head on though before they could bury McSween proper-like, only had time to pile stones over his body. It was real sad-like.
At the back of the pages was an ad for building your own telescope. It said how you could order it and put it together and when you did you could look up into the sky and see the stars real close up and could make out all the constellations and they had a list of the constellations like Draco the dragon and Scorpius which is a scorpion. No constellation of Billy the Kid or any other cowboys but they had one called Orion who I found out was a warrior that killed Scorpius.I thought how much I would like to see some of those stars closer up. I’d been saving up my money for the past few months to get a real honest to God air rifle like the Watkin Brothers but I thought I might like that there telescope more so I cut out the ad and sent all my money in with it.
I think they sent me the wrong kit.
The instructions were for a short wave radio. At least that’s what it looked like in the picture. I made it anyway. When it was done, I took it into the field past the house. It was Friday night. No one was around. I turned on the radio. There was only static. Across the whole dial, nothing but static. I wondered if it was broken. I wondered if I had put it together wrong. Then a quiet voice, a man’s voice sounding real country-like, something like my Pops would listen to, came out through the static. It was still too fuzzy to make out what the words were but I kinda liked it. The sky was so blue and dark it was like the inside of a magician’s hat and everything had spilled out. I sat there in the high grass and listened to that nameless country singer singing something I couldn’t understand. Them stars were real close.
my heart is made of white stone
you made this
with your hands
you pulled the stones
from the mud yourself
and stacked them on the river’s bank
one atop the other
the honey dew melons
full on the vines
you stood back
wiped across your legs
stared at it
marveling in the sunlight
at how easy it was to do this
how much the rocks wanted
to be something
that your fingers pushed together
that they almost floated
inside your palms
and sung to be lifted into the air