Tuesday Apr 23

Tavel-Poetry Adam Tavel received the 2010 Robert Frost Award, and his first poetry collection, The Fawn Abyss, is forthcoming from Salmon Poetry in 2014. His latest poems appear or will soon appear in West Branch, Indiana Review, Zone 3, South Dakota Review, Bayou, Yemassee, and Diode, among others. Tavel is the poetry editor for Conte and an associate professor of English at Wor-Wic Community College on Maryland’s Eastern Shore.
Letter to Weingarten Written as the Script for an Imaginary Western
Fade in: an ochre dusk hovers
over the Sierra Madres. A mouthful
of chewed black licorice serves
as venom you've sucked from the pasty
flab of my thigh. Spitting
the dark spume at menorahs
of clustered cacti prickling
a deflated orange balloon of sun,
you recite your favorite Longfellow
as we saunter the lonesome mile
back to Blueberry Gulch, a brothel
penned by a mining town. My third
rattler bite in a week, you christen me
Fat Freddy Fang-Fucked while I curse
the inky lips upon your face, ordaining
you the worst protagonist this side
of Saturn. None of our banter furthers
the plot. The plot revolves
around your impending showdown
with Toothless Lars, a Norwegian prick.
He sweats gin and smokes his Colts
at the Kiowa squaw who hangs
starched Franciscan linens on a line
behind the old mission. There, dust
makes a soundless ballad riding
the dew-dawn breeze that dies
just as the friar's ward of orphans
rasps their colic. Jumpcut: these angels
will blast your nads to smithereens
you roar, wiping a belt
of whiskey from your lips before
drawing both six-guns. Gut-shot,
you find the strength to plug
Lars so full of lead I can't count
the legion names for light
streaming through his ribs
as you slump into the dust. One cello
bellows its legato question mark
before I gimp a-weeping
to your side. If you can bless a field
of heather in Ohio, you croak, bury
my whiskers there, but lickity split I roll
my sidekick sleeves and bowie the bullet
from your belly. Heal thyself, I say,
it's a nine o'clock curtain for Gimpy
Bess who twirls her nude bolero.
We limp to stanchions swigging
a bottomless flask where
we slouch and toe the names
of flame-haired hosanna sweethearts
in the dust. I envy your Dean Martin
grin and sloppy Stetson brim.
You beg me not to hum
my off-pitch rendition of “Blood
on the Saddle.” We waste
the final scene stoned
on peyote tying ribbons
in our palomino's mane,
a beast we ride forever
into the scrolling credits.
Witness 483: Phoenix Lights Incident, 1997
I'll tell you suits what I told
the county Fifes it sounded
like an F-4 Phantom sturting
with purple dark itself
an intermittent rumble
over the Doffenbach's squat
little rancher how long
it lasted is a good question
I wish I could say Hawkeye
was in and out of butchery
then I remember the Bugles
commercial which struck me
as odd since I didn't know
they still made those things
so I'd have to guess six
minutes before I stubbed
half a Pall Mall strapping
on my steel leg thank you
Charlie and lurched
past my dreaming Huskie
so much for being half
wolf to the door call it
a premonition though funny
I know it sounds to hear
an old Ɖak Tȏ grunt like me
use fifty cent words like that
but I let my fingers hang
over the deadbolt maybe
you should just hobble
back to bed Frank McLean
and let those Pentagon dicks
sweat this out besides
it's probably your tinnitus
acting up but I opened
the screen just as flashing
across my lawn again
that Doffenbach tabby zipped
my old Isotoners missing
its stupid skull by inches
then I felt the sound like
a boot heel crunching ribs
when up I looked tien bing
Widow’s Lament
after Brautigan
Clint's Lucky Strikes lost
their tarry pungency two
years after I dissolved
clutching a creased flag
on a March day so rainy
I thought the Lord planned
to fill graves Himself.
I dust his nightstand weekly
but winter's window sun
yellows that creased pack—
every season fades its round
red insignia
closer to the dusks
of my Wyoming, a state
lost down the hallway
of a mind I keep
sharp crocheting wool mittens
for these Crofton girls.
They never wear them.
When the mousy squealing dies
down from their battles—
their mounds of ice-balls
fleetly replaced with fire
and cocoa gossip—
I squint through glinting
February's silver light
to mark the trespass
of tracks on my lawn
and boots upturned on porch racks
loosening their slush.