The closer the look one takes at a word, the greater
the distance from which it looks back.
_ _ —Karl Kraus
Short supply. The machinery’s in
rust and web. Any old stamp for pounding
bone to meal. Dried-out trees rubbed to
scrub by the hinds of a horse (a horse
can destroy a field). Tango at the watering
hole, land rights, a squat,
a cock, a skip-to-my-Lou. NO TRESPASSING,
not one square inch to graze.
Hark, hark, the dogs bark.
The beggars are coming to town.
I was shaken as salt. I was
as industrial as a drill. Oh pity-poor
fractured me, brain-way-sided, boring
through and through, full of ballas and glue.
_ (“Jesus, what a bitchy little spinster,” so said D. of E.)
Some in rags and some in tags
and some in silken gowns.
Overall, the gang was juiced, their sights on
the mustang herd. Honesty’s a brute:
the steed’s side says MEAT. Razor wire
rigged across the range, set for trip.
_ I got to play scout, the ding-dong
bell-ringer. I took the binocs, the hook,
a lucky shoe. Had my watch in the radio
steel tower; got owl-crossed, got assed
fast, pulled a switcheroo. The whole charade’s
been arranged as presented: the cow
pies, the triad, the blank afternoon.
Some gave them white bread,
and some gave them brown.
They had helicopters and GPS, all that
cowboy whoopi ti yi yo. The pretty
horses go round (a thumpety-thump).
down with tranquilizers (thump), legs
wrapped and bound.
I duke me up, I talk West. Lost
my partner, what’ll I do?
And some gave them a good horsewhip
and sent them out of the town.
So then the lines went crack.
“Not to commend, but to set it.”
So then went the cleaving, the horses
in a stall for study. I looked at and at.
If left to roam, if overblown,
a horse can destroy a field . . .
Emily Rosko is the author of Raw Goods Inventory (University of Iowa Press, 2006). Her poems have appeared in AGNI, Cutbank, Diode, Pleiades, and elsewhere. (updated 10/2008)