October 13, 2011

Red Shuttleworth

POSTCARD TO JERRY L. CRAWFORD

Dear Jerry, We’re at the radiant-blood precipice,
tumbleweeds snagged by barb wire. Yesterday,
as daybreak floated across rock and sagebrush,
someone left a blood-dripping, gut-and-lung shot
coyote in a shopping cart in the Moses Lake
Wal-Mart parking lot. The cart boy, Brent,
was dispatched to have a look.
It didn’t fucking starve to death, he told his boss
before phoning me. This is not, Jerry,
theatre for castratos of the New Yorker variety.
As I rolled up in my cherry-red Mustang,
chewing tobacco, listening to the Cowboy Junkies,
Brent was laying a couple of large plastic bags
over the bullet-riddled carcass in the cart.
It caught me in its gaze, Brent whined,
like I was the pimplehead who shot it.
I told him to shut up. A crowd was gathering.
Then the wind lifted the bags and they spun
off the cart and a clownish girl, with orange hair
and a black dog collar, began dancing.
A guy in the crowd snapped, For Christ’s sake,
Nina, we came here for groceries and beer!

So Brent pushed the dead coyote cart
around to the back of the store, dumped the coyote
at the edge of the lake where we buried it
with brand new, soon-to-be-on-sale shovels.
It’s a bit like baseball, Jerry:
where the head goes, the body follows.
We’re almost over the wall, Red

from Rattle #26, Winter 2006

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