“Howie Night at the Drottkvaett” by Burt Beckmann

Burt Beckmann


Next to the surf-road
six sat late,
thinking we’d found out
a fine hideaway.
The ladies were laughing,
lapping up beer,
we warriors were not
woman weary.

Pleasant that party
until the lager
made the girls piss.
Staggering, giggling
down the dunes
they descended,
hardly aware
of Howie.

There as they squatted
his squad car
came sneaking: in floodlights
the females were framed.
Still spraying, they skimmed
across the strand,
wetting their wear
in the brew-tide.

Meanwhile, hearing the hassle
we hastened
to see how things stood,
our odds in the fist-storm.
Ready to reckon with rednecks,
for a brawl
we abandoned the brandy.

I remember our ranks,
brutal in gang-play:
no bolder berserks
than Ratzo and goat-bearded Jim.
Carrying clubs to the conflict,
dangerous with driftwood,
they meant to split skulls
in the old style.

Already the ravens
were rending the cowards to bits,
in our minds we saw
wolves making short work
of wounded foes, crabs clipping
at corpse flesh,
when around us arose
those sons of trolls.

Capture brings credit to none.
Who cares for his name
should look after his heels,
the swift foot of his beer friend
full readily praise:
Had his luck not run out
brave Ratzo would still
be outrunning the hounds.

But the first to fall
was fierce James,
lord of hard liquors,
lightning-quick drinker.
Corralled by the cops
in a crapper,
the hero was handcuffed
heaving his muffins.

Escape was not easy
on that escapade.
In the confusion
I fled for the fen.
Immersed in slime,
muck up to my ears,
I thought I would drown
in frog spawn and gnats.

Over the rushes
the searchlight played.
The voice on the bullhorn
inveigled in vain.
Thanks to that dousing
I pulled one on Howie;
alone I defended
the honor of thanes.

from Rattle #38, Winter 2012
Tribute to Speculative Poetry


Burt Beckmann: “At an early age I came to imagine that I was inhabited by a cat, and as I grew older I discovered that the cat would purr verse.”

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