John Wilkes Booth (1938)
Between Post and Clairemont, there are,
for one peculiar mile, as many fence posts
as there are skinned wolves dangling off them,
over two-hundred nearly indentical grimaces.
I am no more Lincoln's assassin than you, friend,
but you have paid twenty-five cents to leer
at my arsenic-embalmed black flesh, to peek
up my khaki shorts, to ruffle my white hair.
I am John St. Helen from Enid, Oklahoma,
a lovesick suicide stuffed with straw.
My left leg is shorter, thus I am Booth?
I swallowed a B-engraved pendant for jealousy's
blue flame, so I am Booth? But shake my hand,
place my palm upon your true love's breast.
This poem is from a Red Shuttleworth poetry chapbook, Brief Lives.