We are pleased to announce our newest piece, Ruminants of the American West By: David Pischke
This an eight part poem. The first four are now up and available, parts 5-8 will be available Thanksgiving day.
Ruminants of the American West
Lucky, lucky white horse, ding, ding, ding, everywhere I go I find something.
Butch and Sundance bucked through Utah
and Wild Bill Cody saddled through Wyoming
and Cherokee Bob sidled up to Idaho
and the other Wild Bill gamboled in South Dakota
and Billy the other kid galloped New Mexico
and the Earp brothers on Holliday trotted Arizona
and Calamity cantered into Colorado to start a hotel
to accept the weary traveler’s head and hold it soft awhile.
Are you the West?
Are you won?
Have you a hat dry as dust and wet as rain?
Near Albuquerque, lighting hits so near the cows
we are afraid of electrocution.
Impossible loudness hails on the windows.
We are the family that fears together: he cries
in the back, I clench the wheel, he screams at the thunder,
she tries to calm with tremulous coo.
And the cows keep their heads down—stooped and still
as the cars pulled off the road—they weather, they keep,
they eat wet grass, they flip a tail, they flick an ear, they champ at weed.
Armored in leather, they only feel pings of hail,
stings of iced rain, slaps of thunder that shake
us all together. Even bovine spots tremble.
All us families born from families calfed here
in the high desert are wrapped in wind
winding around our chests, arms, legs, and hips.
It strikes. We tense.
Under the Victorian windows of the old hill neighborhood
across the street from the bus stop where the yells of people
under lights of night or drips of pleasant day rains
who throw dice or bicker proudly before crossing the street
toward the two goats kept in the iron-gated back yard
that come maaaing when I call, Goats? and are milked
to make cheese, I wander, with those across, even
from my lofty position, searching for what’s promised—
in books, tv, movies—; the thing where finding a place
with fences to yard a space where goats can be kept and bees
can be hived for honey all next to Thai food, tortas,
marijuana dispensaries, still-neon-lit bars and an ongoing
flow of cars from Arizona or California, the park next door,
or Boulder, is certain; I watch from dimmed lights
through the splayed curtains knowing the other mes
down there—wheelchaired young black man with friend
pushing, middle-aged Hispanic man in all white lying
on a bus stop bench, obese Indian woman with rivers of silver
in her black hair sitting on the curb—wondering where this is
on our lists of wheres we will rank when we find more
wheres and wes moving from bench to bench, window
to window, sidewalk to sidewalk on feet, or on buses,
or on bicycles, or on too-thin white mother’s arm
over concrete paved over planes, dynamited
through mountains, stuck on shrubbed valleys,
or poured next to rivers.
One time, the hotel owner tells us,
the goats got out and walked the street for miles.
For his 80th we had earth-roasted swine.
The skin was maroon.
The meat was nearly white.
The eyes were sewn shut.
(I’m guessing they melt?)
The mouth was agape.
The hooves were all paralleled to the snout.
(A preposterous position)
Its guts had already been removed.
The skin was knifed open.
The meat, so tender, was pulled apart.
(Like wet clumps of potting soil)
Even the children ate of the flesh.
But they had not been told it had come from the pig.