Even If Painful
What glimpse of self comes from sagebrush?
The brawny hound up ahead swishes his tail,
tosses his head to say, Forward, snap forward.
Rancher says to me, This country
cracked-out raw and thin back in Genesis.
He takes a pinch of Copenhagen snuff
from my can. We both stare off
at sagebrush, thin soil, rock, bad fence line.
Jesus was all for bankers in leg irons.
Pretty baby steps into her overgrown
patch of tomato plants, rolls up her sleeves,
Guess we'll take what we get 'till there's a freeze.
A young rattler races from beneath thick vines.
Bright metallic-white trail in the sky.
Maybe someone on board with rattler history,
an atrophied hand, a dog blinded,
a snake fried in butter and cornbread batter.
The blue sky quivers, wipes itself clean.
A quarter mile of sagebrush... like medicine
no one knows how to use. One spidery
elm tree on the other side of the hill.
The creek on the map is a dry crease.
Towns ain't nothin' but a padded bra.
The rancher smacks the hood of his pick-up.
Just the anguished cuppin' each other's chins.
Narrow lives in the service of rackets.
Grandpa came here tied to a saddle.
Pretty baby wants the county to blacktop
the gravel track right to our front door.
What, old man, is that sagebrush
doing on my kitchen table?
The county wants property taxes paid,
wants everyone but the hound
available for jury duty...
'n' screw the paving.
Stiff-knees evening. TV foppery:
a slobbery woman in bright light
confides to millions she's creamed
the pouches and double chin
right off her beauty-robbed face.
The sagebrush has somehow moved
to the hound's kitchen bed.
Might have to give it a proper name.