Sunday May 26

Thayer Casey Thayer received an MFA from Northern Michigan University and has poems published or forthcoming in  American Poetry Review Devil's LakePoetry, and elsewhere. Currently, he teaches at the University of Wisconsin-Rock County.



    Love Poem in the Spirit of Thelma & Louise

   In the soot-shade of the razed tire plant
   you had laid in the backseat of your Olds,

   big boat of a thing, the one
   with the hula dancer melted to the dash,

   & your dachshund head-down
   on the front seat wondering

   why you cried. You went everywhere
   with that dog in those days

   before you crated her
   & swung by the shelter.

   Boxed-up apartment, life left on the street
   for thrifty hipsters to pick through,

   decks of cards missing all the queens,
   lamp with a broken neck.

   The day you skipped town
   with the bar safe it rained all morning

   & the barber put a hole
   through the back of his throat.

   Maybe you ran afoul
   of the law in Lawrence & spent a night

   on a bench in a bus station.
   Maybe you sold clothes to desperate men

   to make rent or washed
   your underwear in the sink

   of a rest stop bathroom. I’ve imagined you
   in innumerous high jinx, near-misses.

   If you show back up, I swear
   we’ll get belly-sick on wine. I swear

   I’ll clear your name, kneel next to you
   in the confessional booth.

   You’ll find me on the back porch
   of the petrol off Washington.

   You tiring at the wheel,
   skidding gravel & nearly losing

   the center line. Oh, to see your knuckles
   on the wheel of that giant beast,

   to know the world returns us
   this crush of fire, this set of jaws

   chewing through our insides as if
   the sun would never short out.

   Joshua, Judges, Ruth

   When we memorized
   the books, we made up

   We sang,

   “Joshua judges Ruth”
   “Dude, or Ron, or me.”

   Our moms had “male friends”
   named Ron-just-call-me-Dude.

   The Rons bought us
   comic books.

   The Rons said, “Wait here
   while I talk to your mother.”

   We waited.

   Sometimes we drew on scrap paper, sometimes
   we memorized the gospels:

   “Gospel According to Matthew,”
   “The Gospel of Marky Mark” we called him,
   “Gospel According to Garth,” patron saint
   of friends in low places.

   Here is a fire.
   Here we are standing
   outside of it.


   In case his notebooks were destroyed,
   Mandelstam’s wife memorized all his poems.

   At night, she’d dream of fire,
   notebooks burning.

   How curious, she thought.
  They make such small flames.


   We wanted to add a verse:

   “God so loved the world
   that he brought his only son to heaven
   so they could cut shots on the wide green field
   of a pool table.”

   In our gospels, God
   was an older brother handing down
   mixtapes and Playboys with all the pics snipped out.

   In our book, the benediction
   called for soundproof walls
   and dissolved curfews.

   We know how it feels to be a language
   with loose grammatical rules
   and a shallow vocabulary.

   What can we call this?
   We have so few words.


   Before things dissolved,
   my mother wrote passages

   on the walls of her bedroom,
   on the sea of her bed.

   Then the white paint, the touch-ups,
   ghost of a verse burning through.


   We kept three commandments:
   One: Bring the paddle when I ask you.

   Two: Remember, the Rons work night shift
   so keep it down already this isn’t a circus.

   Three: Do not covet the neighbor kid’s house
   or the neighbor kid’s playset
   or the neighbor kid’s dad.

   When we rode around on bikes,
   we pointed out upstairs windows,

   We asked each other:
   “Which bedroom would be yours?”

   The backyard gardens all tilled up
   and the streets lined with the lit matches
   of maple trees.


   What did we say about that war?
   We lost all our words in the burning.

   It started with a bunch of gospels
   we pared back to petition

   and now we know nothing
   of pleasure but plea.