Photograph of a Suicide in the Morning Paper
Like jumping for the first time off the high dive at the pool when she was six, she finally just closed her eyes and hopped, sitting down in the air knees bent one hand trailing loose above her head the other hand pinching her nose. I later recalled with a startled grimace how cruel it seemed that her puffed cheeks held on so fiercely to the last breath.
Nebraska Noir, 1973
While fishing in Harry Strunk Lake, Dean McQuiety reeled in a foot and then an arm with hand attached. The detective said and I quote, Murder is no mystery only the motive. The stores in McCook have sold out of handguns, and after church there is talk. Packed away in someone’s freezer are the heads of that missing couple. The devil loves a good mystery. He is sitting up all night in Culbertson, behind a hundred bolted doors, and at a truckstop outside Kearney he is waiting for the next bus, inhaling cigarettes like rations of air.
Spreading a stain of ripe mango The sun dissolves among plum-colored clouds We have come out again to watch And talk quietly or not at all Grateful, taking solace Like a last thought before sleep A dove homes toward the glowing rim Dragging a blue sheet That turns black when no one is looking
County Youth in Accident
The story in the paper got it wrong — wasn’t how fast I was goin’ or the road bein’ slick from rain. It was that deer, crazy young buck, cut right in front of me. I was drivin’ as fast as I always do ’cept when the road’s froze up. But that stupid deer…
I’ve seen him at all hours in every weather, lately bent over, lugging a duffel bag: stocky, robust-looking white guy, graying greased-back hair, trim salt-and-pepper beard. Sometimes he’s puffing on a cheap briar pipe and holds another one, unlit, clutched in his other hand. …
Talking with John Gill at the Elysian Fields Cafe
1. You’re gaunt as Gauguin’s Yellow Christ, John, and your iconoclasm is so ingrained I see you’re cringing at that comparison. You sure you can’t see it? We could get you a sexy loin cloth, hire the hippie carpenters at Knock on Wood to make a splinter-free white-pine cross. Of…
In Memory of the American Haiku Master, Raymond Roseliep
bark chip flipped over aha! sowbugs conspiring and nowhere to run bees bounce off my lily-white sneakers blooming in clover a swallow swoops close my eyes crash land in a ditch heap of feathers, ash Sobi-Shi at dusk holds fireflies in a jar waits for the moonrise Ray’s eyes graze poems watching a mosquito dance the cat in his lap he trims his toenails stares at his foot in profile such sensuous curves
To the Lake Isle, and Step on It
Even as you are making up something To tell her (to make it right), Part of you is itching to get lost — Find your island, A rock on the cliff above the beach Cut off from the lights of cars And the starry eyes of couples Passing as single shadows. As a child You’d retreat to the hall closet, Sit Indian-style under the coats, Beside the vacuum cleaner and boots, Making plans: working things out Neat as a geometric proof, Then, listening to the fall of dust, Go woolgathering in the mothball dark —