THE YELLOW PENCIL
No matter how loud I shout, my voice doesn’t carry.
Only in old movies do the lovers escape on an ice floe. The night
supervisor, his face curiously flushed, whispers something I can’t
hear to the new girl working the line in the family pencil factory.
Later, the worn rubber nub of a no. 2 pencil erases what has just
NOW THAT THE BUFFALO ARE GONE
We were fighting the Indians in Florida. You said a
joke without a punchline isn’t a real joke. Why I always carry an
arrowhead in my pocket, I said. Children passed over the hill, a
coffin covered with wildflowers, but Thoreau only came out when
there was a fire downtown. The tall ships of the China trade
returned empty. It was a sign of something, like a face shaded by a
I pass an hour rearranging chunks of the alphabet.
Distant tramping rattles the window. I wave to our mailman. He
doesn’t wave back. The furniture scuttles sideways in any room the
squad enters. They take away the neighbor who mowed his grass at
night. Buildings are still burning. I should think about something
else – island women, naked to the waist, kneeling down to bathe
their wounded eyes in the river of dreams.
REMEMBER THE ALAMO
The farts of a hopped-up Mustang echo down the
street. Sam Houston could use a shot of mescal right about now. His
hand trembles like a courier with urgent news. Under the tent, the
strongman lifting a barbell grunts. He doesn’t wish to discuss
anymore the dissonant modernism of his early work. Agents in belted
raincoats watch the border from nearby doorways. Although the sun
is out, the nine-spotted ladybug crosses undetected.