Monday, February 28, 2011



Soft breeze and fog frost on sagebrush.
A roadill coyote pup roadside for a week.
I drive past a shuttered church
and old time country music comes to mind.

A gnarled man sharpens a pocket knife
on a train track east of Soap Lake.
Disguised as newlyweds, kids sulk
on a motel bed, stare out a window.
A local basketball coach,
arteries about the burst,
bellows at his players,
Gentlemen, let's place
the exrement on the scales.

My neighbor,
a dryland wheat farmer,
bought, over the internet,
a Serbian riot baton
for his children...
so they'll know history.

So many rose petals
Stop asking if I ever see
the walls I crash into.

Slipping Off the Saddle

Slipping Off the Saddle

My dead right eye breathes fire, burns me awake some nights.
I laugh a lot to cure fear of quick, kindless rattlesnakes.

And I like to pretend it isn't all downhill... seek a coyote savior
to lead me to a motel-deluxe room where light bulbs work.

What is it, precisely, we can offer each other, four-legged
to two-legged... and back again: No more fucking leg traps.

Mostly I don't answer the phone, because the Colt revolver
is way too not-in-hand: I can cope with crises... not turmoil.

Pretty baby throws the bedside clock-radio and the phone off
a college baseball poster, says, I can tell you what's gonna happen!

Sometimes we have a good grind, then I paw through Doc Holliday's
left over nightmares... and a little aged bourbon/cow culture wisdom.

Tonight's moon is waxy-pink and I get the wrong boots on each foot.
Sometimes I unreach the mark and feel sorry for my own missed cues.

One time I held her shoes so that she could walk up and down
a corn cob driveway just to say it was something she did naked.

Tonight my Personal Savior Coyote, a three-legged, hell-on-rodents
kind of guy, is sniffing out sick calves, not answering my prayers.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Marilyn Monroe (1960)

Marilyn Monroe  (1960)

     - for Kirk Robertson

I don't have to wear a halo all the time.
She drooled like any chloral addict.
Waking up in her Mapes Hotel room's shower,
Marilyn asked for a steak sandwich,
skip the mayo.  A make-up girl offered
to find her a Paiute coyote fetish.
The gravediggers are waiting, Marilyn snapped.
Huston or Miller?  She brushed her bone-blonde
dry-as-the-Great-Basin hair, concealed it
with a smoke-blue, flat brim Stetson,
announced that her ass was sore
from the pick-up truck in The Misfits.
She winked at Gable, I used to remember
all my lines when I was an angel.

This poem is reprinted from a Red Shuttleworth chapbook, Brief Lives.  This poem is also included in Red Shuttleworth's Ghosts & Birthdays (published by Kris Wetherholt's Humanitas Media Publishing and available on Amazon).

Sonny Liston (1970)

Sonny Liston

Liston - Clay poster

Sonny Liston  (1970)

The silence is so sweet as Liston jabs a needle
into his log-size forearm.  He is hardness,
quick hands, and he is the last time Ali is Clay.
Night Train, out of the oak record player,
lopes around the room like a drunk dog.
I always want to say, "Love me,"
and I couldn't spit it out to no one.
Sometimes young fighters stop by after sparring
at Johnny Tocco's Gym, jump the prime rib spread.
Sonny, he don't always be mean, his wife says.
Morning is racing down Sunrise Mountain
and the desert is speckled with the bodies of men
who couldn't pay up.  Liston shuffles, fists up,
to the gold curtains, peeks out, bellows, Boo!

Sonny Liston as Santa Claus for Esquire

This poem is included in a Red Shuttleworth chapbook, Brief Lives.

Sam Peckinpah (1980)

Sam Peckinpah, a Ciara Shuttleworth sketch

Sam Peckinpah  (1980)

     - for Paul Zarzyski

Sick of clouds, sick of clawed and ripped ears
and noses, sick of clouds the shape of dented
garbage cans digesting coils of Sonoran landscape
and men, ruined by love, on bucking horses:
I want a moonlight angel in my bed.
In the hotel bar downstairs, a hungry man
is trying to sell a painting of sagebrush.
And a woman is crying, and her husband,
face bruised yellowish-green like a corpse,
frowns over a glass of Red Stag bourbon.
Sick of furrowed fields, sick of boulders
migrating south in a dream about an Apache
drilling a well for a suburban couple:  My chest
has lost its muscles, my heart its punch.

This poem is included in a Red Shuttleworth chapbook, Brief Lives.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Waylon Jennings (1974)

Waylon Jennings, a Ciara Shuttleworth sketch

Waylon Jennings  (1974)

The guitar skitters, jumps.  It's a pounding
bad-ass surly song: Take your sorry chances.
'cause gloom is what we all deserve,
for this is Pay Later Day, but if you can
battle past it, finally truth your way around
the cactus, she'll be there in a black Cadillac,
Love.  It's a Wednesday, probably, sweat and dread.
He takes a pull off a bottle of whiskey,
can't seem to sleep on the ebony Silver Eagle
somewhere between Chickasha and Mineral Wells.
It's a gambler's soup and losers end at sixty
in furnished rooms feeding D-Con to rats.
He laughs, jots down some lines on a girl
with a nest of vultures in her topaz eyes.

This poem and other bio-sketch poems are presented in Red Shuttleworth's Ghosts & Birthdays (Humanitas Media Publishing, 2012), a poetry book available from Amazon.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Three Dirt Roads... Nevada

Three Dirt Roads... Nevada

Face-ripping autumn wind
& a gooey Safeway cake
at an upbeat motel-by-the-week.

Chained dog yowl,
nickel goddamned candy
& Bible-chat radio.

This ain't love,
she screams, I just
loaned myself to you.

     * * *

Bed spring clang
& a yellow pleated skirt
atop a blue, fake leather vest.

Her shampooed hair,
a gone-shallow creek,
& aquamarine telephone poles.

Microwave soup cups
& she's like Death Valley,
face raspberry-red with rage.

     * * *

I'd give anything
if you'd stop lying to me.
Her request is unreasonable.

Marshmallow-white kitchen sink
& her voice real nice from surgery
or two packs of cigs a day.

Furnished room north of Vegas
& her Hollywood saline sack breasts:
Boy, I'm seeing new people.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Hank Williams (1952 / 1953)

Hank Williams, a Ciara Shuttleworth sketch

Hank Williams  (1952 / 1953)

     for Tom Russell

They never tell you each road is a way
to meet shrill women who make you lonelier.
They never say the next train is short of seats.
When you bang your head on the inside of a back seat
car door, there's never a trim angel there,
just the devil disguised as radio music.
Morphined, chloraled, boozed: the snow
out on the highway is the color of watered down whiskey.
The last time you saw his star-wobbling soul in a mirror
it whispered, Every child is born to scare its momma.
At least there's no factory grindstone, no Detroit
hotel room with a bare, blinding light bulb.
As two bottles clink on the floor below your jaw,
Hank, there ain't a way to turn around.

This poem first appeared in Flyway (Volume 9.1, 2004), edited at Iowa State University by Stephen Pett, Allison Mackin, and Joe Capista.  This poem was also included in a Red Shuttleworth chapbook, Brief Lives. Subsequently this poem was included in Ghosts & Birthdays, a collection of Red Shuttleworth poems (Humanitas Media Publishing, 2012), available on Amazon.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Clara Bow (1930)

Clara Bow  (1930)

The hunger never eases.
Nipples worked erect,
she cannot sleep.
Gilbert Roland and Gary Cooper
are no more than a gleam
of an ocean under stars.
The peachy satin sheet is cold.
The red ceramic tissue box
beside her bed is empty.
Here at the beach house,
legs widened, she listens
to the leaky kitchen faucet,
waits for Rex Bell to phone her back,
but he's in Tahoe with Will Rogers
making another Western.
She tries to sing Bad Companions,
but her voice is heavy like river stones
in the pocket of a fringed leather coat.
The mirror trembles as she
holds her lonesome breasts.

Rogers Hornsby (1924)

Rogers Hornsby  (1924)

Winters, Texas, is a county away
from Bronte and Tennyson,
and Rajah says,
Ain't a decent saloon between 'em.
November ice coats the road
in from Abilene.
He is back home in Winters
to conduct a baseball school.
Not a one of these kids
will get past Ty Cobb,
that sonofabitch,
the way I did with a bat.
He glares out the window
of Mrs. Barton's Boarding House,
juggles three biscuits,
his hands strawberry-jelly-sticky.
I don't mix, just ballpark
and hotel.  I hate musicals.
Reading kills a batter's eyes.
Dinner with anybody,
other than a pretty gal,
is worthless piss.
The nearby baseball field
has an inch of ice over it.
Even if Winters is inside
hell freezin' over,
the Chamber of Commerce
better pay me a bonus
or I'll torch the house
I was born in
to clear the air.

Carolina League Old Timers Game, 1980

 Enos Slaughter
Durham, North Carolina
Summer 1980

Carolina League Old Timers Game, 1980

     for Miles Wolff

Dead arms cock and toss
ghostly looping baseballs.
With golf course tans,
paunches, and bored
teenaged children
in the stands.
they trade anecdotes
wives never hear.

In the dugout,
young minor leaguers
owned by the Atlanta Braves
giggle, nor recognizing
how it is they will gather
their own aged summers
into a blue weather
three-inning old timers game
where the trails cross
past pink slips, real jobs.

In our dugout,
Joe Cowley farts,
says Enos Slaughter
is obscenely fat.
Out on the mound,
Tommy Byrne kicks
at the rubber
with new spikes.

Gallagher tells me
not to watch too long.
I have to warm up
our starting pitcher,
a bonus baby
West Point drop-out
whose hard one explodes
like a grenade as it
crosses the plate.

But I want to memorize
this grassy field in May sunlight,
the baggy flannel uniforms,
the bald, blunt head of Enos Slaughter
as he grins and signs a ball.
I want to memorize
the blonde, nearly bare-breasted
woman interviewing Bob Veale for TV,
her butt tense and snug
in grey designer jeans.

I want to memorize
the quizzical expression
on Tommy Byrne's face
as he adjusts his grip
on a batting practice ball,
the pheasant-brained
radio announcer eating
his fourth free hot dog,
the wide-open happiness
of middle-aged baseball players
who never expected this
residue of poise and grace.

It's good to sit here
out of the old timers' way
with my hand in my glove.
When the years have been piled on
and I'm nearer some mortuary,
I'll stand over there, just behind
home plate with the gear on
one last blood-pulsing time.

And I'll look over here
to the dugout to see myself
young again, lean and hard,
my hands tight with impatience.
I'll look over one spring day,
then turn around, squat and catch
my finest innings... even if
I resemble a beached sea lion.

This poem first appeared in The Minneapolis Review of Baseball (now named Elysian Fields Baseball Quarterly ) in 1985, edited by Steve Lehman.

 Joe Cowley
Summer 1980

 Bob Veale
Summer 1980

Red Shuttleworth
Summer 1980

After the release of the movie Bull Durham, a lot of guys who played for the Durham Bulls (the Atlanta Braves Class-A minor league team in the early 1980's) were taken for bullshitters when they claimed they had been there... on the grass at Durham Athletic Stadium.  The Bulls returned to the Carolina League thanks to local franchise owner Miles Wolff.  It was Miles who paid my salary when I was the bullpen coach in 1980.  Every January I call Miles and thank him for the gift of being a Durham Bull in 1980.  A baseball visionary, Miles Wolff was instrumental in returning minor league baseball to profitable popularity.

Baseball Hall of Famer Enos Slaughter has passed on.  Tommy Byrne is gone, too.  Joe Cowley is rumored to be a nuts & bolts salesman somewhere in the South, but, after Durham, Joe went on to pitch in the Major Leagues for the Braves, Yankees, White Sox, and Phillies.  Bob Veale, my roommate on the road in 1980, our pitching coach, who led the National League in strikeouts in 1964 while pitching for the Pirates, is retired somewhere in Alabama.

The Durham Bulls are now a Triple-A minor league team.  Miles Wolff no longer owns the franchise.  I will never be invited back to an old timers game.  

The Deer

The Deer

Thunder and she vanishes
into a haze of evergreens,
perfumed gold dress billowing.
A deer runs soundlessly
and blue night comes.

In the village, children break
all the school windows
and the principal prays
to the goddess of photography.

In the nearby hotel
the maid strips
in her favorite lavender room,
stretches pale fingers
to the ceiling...
as if to touch
the coupling a floor up.

In woods as dark as a kettle,
a deer stands beside
a blonde prom queen
runner-up, his antlers
gentle on her forehead.

This poem, in an earlier version, first appeared in Wind Magazine (Volume 17, Number 61, 1987), edited by Quentin R. Howard.

Living at the edge of the wilderness of British Columia, up in the Rocky Mountain Trench, on the fringe of an "instant town," I was drawn to the poetry of Georg Trakl.  I was engaged by translations made by Robert Bly and James Wright... and by Herbert Lindenberger's book in the Twayne's World Authors Series, Georg Trakl (Twayne Publishers, 1971).  That was in the winter of 1974-75.  The poetry of Trakl vastly enlarged what I thought could be done with poetry... and extended the education received from Kay Boyle and William Dickey at San Francisco State University.  In the autumn of 1979, Lindenberger, a long time Stanford University professor in comparative literature, spent time with my poems and me.  I shall forever be indebted to Herbert Lindenberger for his criticism of my early poems and for his encouragement.  My poem The Deer was deeply influenced by Trakl and Lindenberger.

Herbert Lindenberger
Stanford University
Fall 1979

Friday, February 18, 2011

The Boxer on Canvas

 Benny "Kid" Paret
(March 14, 1937 - April 3, 1962)

The Boxer on Canvas

The grinding of a beaver's teeth
back and forth over poplar.
You don't waken to blueberry pie,
huckleberries generously laced into it,
fresh vanilla ice cream on top.
No.  A man is yelling from down
a narrow coal mine shift,
Seven... Eight... Nine... ,
and your knees won't listen,
your heart rushes blindly,
you don't care about wood smoke
from slash fires you loved as a boy.
You start to cry to your deaf
and dumb body about damned gravity,
but finally you smile at the people
who want you to be a vacant lot
strewn with busted glass.

Benny "Kid" Paret, in an NBC nation-wide broadcast on March 24, 1962 from Madison Square Garden, suffered thirty unanswered blows from Emile Griffith as referee Ruby Goldstein delayed stopping the fight... for any number of reasons.  Ten days later, Paret, who never emerged from a coma, died.

This poem had Benny "Kid" Paret in mind, though it was predicated by the death of another fighter, whose name I cannot recall, in 1974.  The poem first appeared in Poetry Now (Vol. III, Nos. 4-6 -issues 15-16-17-18), edited by E.V. Griffith. 

The poem was also included in my 1978 chapbook, Poems to the Memory of Benny Kid Paret (Sparrow Press: Felix and Selma Stefanile, editors).

Dog Heart Mostly Sleeps in the Pickup

Rockabilly, a Ciara Shuttleworth sketch.

Dog Heart Mostly Sleeps in the Pickup

Battered, sweat-greasy 5-X Stetson,
too early for cold beer,
you're working
someone else's cattle
as if on a slot machine binge.
So what if Elvis left the building.

     * * *

A smart Ely girl offers up
more than a theory on global warming
or one on Sonny Liston's murder.
The scent of her perfume
is like vanilla car freshner:
she demon-smiles
the way you like it,
If it was my period, honey,
we could blood-stain
these motel sheets.

     * * *

In Tonopah, Wyatt Earp's toothbrush,
chipped blue wood, worn down bristles,
withers in a dusty glass case.
Imagine what a lock
of Earp's hair might be worth.
Or one of Waylon's coke-rotted teeth.
For $27.95, including tax,
you rent Wyatt and Sadie Earp's
Mizpah Hotel brass bed room,
pay an extra $45
for the dusty parlor.

     * * *

Over corn flakes
at that Fallon motel
next to the steak house,
the blonde grips your hand,
swears she'd be a winterkill
stallion... just for you.
You don't like her 
gender confusion on horses.
Later, the motel check-out clerk
believes, We're runnin' out of rabbits
to shoot.  Guess it's down to derelicts.

     * * *

You buy cherry donuts.
She's asleep,
her rhinestone spangled,
gravy-stained tube dress
on the warped floor.
Her first husband shot her daddy's
rottweiler, hauled her
to a single-wide near Elko...
wind-sprung roof,
queen-size waterbed,
scratchy army surplus blankets.
Last night she said you're lightning
striking her soul's pipe corral.

     * * *

Hey, buckaroo,
you're a wolf hide blanket,
a slice of last night's pecan pie
on a cigarette-burned motel nightstand.
You're a JFK lucky half dollar
in a Copenhagen snuff can.
The consequences are around the bend.
Driving sunlight near Austin,
you hit a coyote
and it flies over the cab of the pickup,
lands square in the truck bed.

     * * *

She's a Cheyenne, Wyoming, show:
vanilla-cream tight Wranglers,
cherry high heels,
and a mostly unsnapped
red-yoked satin
rodeo queen black shirt.
And you've got a broke molar
from a T-bone on your mind.
Outside the saloon, it's hailing.
Your heart's running
like one of Geronimo's horses.

     * * *

Somewhere east of Scottsbluff,
leaking oil on two-lane blacktop,
you reckon life's about spicing up pain.
Over a century's gone
and Stephen Crane's ghost
still explores what's beneath
abandoned High Plains homes:
old lace, eagle feathers, coup sticks.

     * * *

A stuffed lynx grimaces
in a dark Leadville saloon.
A local minister nurses a beer,
polishes a brass crown of thorns
for a pageant.  Oh, how terrifying
the days ahead will be.
Let's circle-up stones,
light the supper fire.

     * * *

Pass the Wild Turkey.
Everyone's got unspent excuses.
Now it's Wagontire, Oregon,
population seven.,
bitter stock tank water
for a bath out back
of the ramshackle,
roof shingles to the wind motel.
In the distance:
sun-parched ranch family graves.
These are the good times...
when you don't have
enough rope to hang yourself.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

A Day Short

Pup, a sweet and placid Irish Wolfhound, and the Shuttleworths, Kate, Ciara, Maura, and Red: west of Fairbury, Nebraska, in August of 1981.

A Day Short

A day short of being thirty-six,
I locate another fatty tumor on the Wolfhound.
Tomorrow, a time of presents I've seen already:
a mended jacket, framed snapshots of my girls,
a bottle of Power's Irish Whiskey.  A day
of applecake, Sunday newspapers, a quiet
walk with the old dog.  Killing chickens today
with a friend, we talked of cobblers and Brueghel.
It is the middle of a simple life lost from
baseball.  I carry a pen and notebook,
consider the milkweed by the lake, wonder if
Doc Holliday truly shot a tumor off his dog's leg.
A day short of being thirty-six, I run two miles
to feel the inflamed chest cartilage, to feel
how my knees hurt.  My countrymen build saloons,
churches, war planes.  My countrymen, let's bring
back the cobbler, the grizzly, girls who wear
plaid shirts in redwood forests.  Whiskey-breathed,
I sing with Kate and my girls, Good Ole Boys Like Me,
sing Hank Jr. and Waylon, sing the moldering
color of October prairie.  I'm just a day short.

This poem first appeared in The Ontario Review (Number 15, Fall-Winter 1981-82), edited by Raymond J. Smith and Joyce Carol Oates.

Roadside Attractions... a one-poem chapbook by Red Shuttleworth

"Roadside Attractions is an open notebook of the road, a daily, yearly and lifelong diary; a memory-poem that in a mere five pages imparts the essence of what it means to be capital-W Western.  A literary Burma Shave tour of back roads and fast-maturing frontier towns punctuated by Shuttleworth's unique rhythms and subjects (some of whom belong in David Lynch films), Roadside Attractions is compelling for its counterpoints... the West as a place of big dreams and lost expectations, its people subject to the Old West's excitement and tedium and the New West's opportunity and trepidation."
                        -- Jon Chandler, Roundup Magazine

Bisbee, Arizona, 1912

Arizona Rangers, Bisbee, Arizona
(Hayden Arizona Collection
Arizona State University Libraries)

Bisbee, Arizona, 1912

Copper greed, unbalanced heat, and borders:
the shrill 300-pounder calls her breasts
Night Shift Globes, charges three dollars.

Her man's a throat-slitter.  Statehood's here.
The horizon takes a last savage breath
and darkness drapes the Copper Queen Hotel.

Shake your thin shirt off, pioneer,
slam the window shut, a woman says.
A man with hot imbecile-breath moans.

Geronimo is dead at Fort Sill, Oklahoma,
the Apache mountains are gouged.
Our demons keep impersonating us.

What a hoot, a hotel geezer says
to some god's flaming moon.

Evening and a Wren Flying Home to a Dead Tree

Red Shuttleworth, Winside, Nebraska, December 1987

Evening and a Wren Flying Home to a Dead Tree

Dressed in a faded black skirt
and a low-cut azure blouse, the smell
of wood smoke rising off her breasts,
she stands next to the kitchen sink,
and guts a cottontail.  Her husband
is looking for the priest at the rodeo
and her father is laid out upstairs
on his bed, as dead as the rat her son
put in the county sheriff's mailbox.
Her father is too dead to ever again
examine pictures in Playboy or think
a dip in a barrel of rusty rain water
is as good as a bath.  His colors of
thirst were salt, tequila, and lime.

This poem first appeared in West Branch 18 in 1986, edited by Karl Patten and Robert Taylor

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Dizziness and Shudder

Dizziness and Shudder

Like a footsore cowgirl dragging a saddle,
my daughter comes from school.  You've got
snuff-breath, she says, kissing my cheek.

With acrylics, she spreads out a deathscape:
a pewter cottonwood, snow falling in whorls,
a brain-colored Wolfhound chewing grass.

I think this is the true way Pup died
of bloat, she tells me, and brushes in
a sun the color of bloody bedclothes.

This poem first appeared in Mississippi Valley Review, edited by John Mann, in the Fall/Winter 1985-1986 issue.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Casino Oatmeal

Casino Oatmeal

A platoon of old guys sits the cafe counter
in Stockman's as I stagger in for a chicken fried steak
and fried eggs ten a.m. breakfast.
A couple geezers look over, so I nod,
and their eyes glint, You're gonna be
sittin' with us in ten years... if you don't
heart attack out... dumb bastard.

The waitress, peroxide-blonde okay at forty,
says, It'll be just a little while, honey.
The geezer closest to me spoons
buttery raspberry oatmeal.
Most of us have Resistols or Stetsons
screwed down on our skulls,
though most are short-brimmed,
sweat-stained grandpa hats.

I think about my daughters...
when they had ragdolls,
Barbies, tea parties
with large hounds.
And I think back to when
my son rode dry ewes,
spurred straw and alfalfa bales
with roughstock hooks and growl.

I think about all the blind miles
on poetry road: cold eyes,
lipsticked bubble lips,
the ruined figures of lady
freshman composition teachers,
motels with not-so-mysterious
coed door knocks after readings,
all the brain-bruised wake-ups
and the rush to the car
to speed down-road.

And I think of poets onward
and away from poetry,
now making stained glass,
or selling hedge funds,
paying bad-house mortgages,
their kids breaking knick-knacks
with hurled skateboards.

Now the old guys
are weaving out of Stockman's,
so I nod again and they nod,
their eyes flashing,
You're gonna get yours...
sure as ugly weather,
sure as BLM stealin' grazing land,
sure as wives pushing vitamin pills,
hip replacements, pointless drives
to Mexico for prostate cancer cures.

The Bullpen Catcher Considers His Condition

 Red Shuttleworth, bullpen coach,
Texas City Stars
(a Class-A minor league team
in the Lone Star League)

The Bullpen Catcher Considers His Condition

With the big leagues out of my grasp, I lean against
the dugout wall and dip half a can of Copenhagen snuff.
The acrid smell of Texas City sinks onto the field
at dusk, oily, like the inside of a plastic
soda pop bottle.  There's that to look
forward to, and mosquitoes biting like mad.

But I love this no-frills minor league,
the scraggy-faced teenaged girls who come
to watch us, their thin hands scraping
for popcorn in carton bottoms, solid bellies
rising toward ivory halters, boots tapping
every night to the same Jerry Jeff Walker song.

Death is so far away tonight, like Thanksgiving
or my childhood, and we're here slinging balls
as if having money piled in banks is something alien,
as if this is all the love we can give or take.

This poem first appeared in The Texas Review, edited by Paul Ruffin, in that journal;s spring/summer 1985 issue.

 The manager of the Texas City Stars in 1977 was "Dirty Al" Gallagher, former Major League 3rd baseman for the San Francisco Giants and California Angels.  Al and I grew up together in San Francisco.  He managed in the minor leagues from 1976 to 2012, both for major league farm system teams of the Atlanta Braves and the Cleveland Indians... and for numerous indie minor league outfits. 

An after batting practice, pre-game snapshot taken in Texas City in 1977 of Jeff McKay (journeyman minor league pitcher, later a scout for the Kansas City Royals) Red Shuttleworth (coach), and John Harness (minor league pitcher).  I was clearly the happiest guy there. 

Monday, February 14, 2011

Barbara Moffett (1940)

Barbara Moffett at Hollywood's Florentine Gardens

Barbara Moffett  (1940)

A wolverine fur coat arrives in the mail.
California's Loveliest Showgirl tries it on
with crimson calf-high boots, nothing else.
On the radio, Wendell Wilkie says, No more
idle hands.  We need two million bathtubs,
millions of refrigerators, and no war in Europe.
At Hollywood's Florentine Gardens, Barbara,
ranch born, champion roper at twelve,
peels her jeans, peroxide blonde everywhere
pleasant, and five nights a week she slips
into a glossy, leg-slits, monkey skin dress...
and she strips... orchedaceous.  But next spring,
road money earned, she hopes to win the Saugus Rodeo,
chug a beer, go shirttail to the frisky wind.

Barbara Moffett

This poem will be included in the next Red Shuttleworth poetry chapbook, We Drove All Night, which will be published by Finishing Line Press in August, 2011.

Tornado Watch

Red Shuttleworth, Galveston Island, 1976

Tornado Watch

Lightning slices above Texas City,
the refineries and Dairy Queens.
Our dining room table is a table cloth
spread over a dozen cases of Lone Star.
A piano is rolled into a field.
The land has been unzipped.
Two men stand on the piano
& count oil wells.
We send out invitations,
but only piano keys arrive.
We send out appeals,
but we can only smell
an overheated radiator.
What muscles the land has,
a violence of separation.
A window flies across a pasture.

This poem first appeared in Southwest Review, edited by Margaret Hartley, in the summer of 1979.

Dead Lynx Off a Trapline

Dead Lynx Off a Trapline

Across every river
I dream two men
eating a tug of war
of buffalo intestines.

The absolution I crave
is heavy with wet snow
from a Pacific storm.
The ice thins midstream.
I see swirls while
a woman guitars
a prayer made
of beaver hides.

This poem first appeared in the mid-1970's in Poetry Now, published and edited by E.V.Griffth.  Having a poem in Poetry Now was hot stuff back then.  Most of the leading poets of that era published their best writing in that magazine, which was really a poetry tabloid in competition with American Poetry Review.

Griffith was something of a recluse... living in Eureka, California, in the land of redwoods, far from the centers of literary power.  He edited a number of journals, including Hearse and Coffin.  As a young man, Griffith studied with Pulitzer Prize-winning poet and fiction writer Robert Penn Warren.  Griffith tried his hand at both poetry and short fiction, but, finally, saw himself as an editor.  But in 1963 Griffith published a short story in Playboy.  Some fellow asked Griffith what his writing was doing in such a "pornographic" magazine... and Griffith asked the man what he was doing looking through that journal. 

In those years, I restlessly drove the country.  Every so often I would show up at Griffith's home on K Street in Eureka for a long night of drinking and talking poetry.  In the summer of 1975, after my wife Kate and I had wintered in central British Columbia, we rented a disused pentecostal meeting house in Fields Landing, just south of Eureka.  We were off our luck... and Griffith made sure that we didn't starve.  E.V. Griffith was a great editor and a true friend to many a poet, including me.

Stanford University Libraries hold the E.V. Griffith Archive. 

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Wyatt Earp (1909)

A Ciara Shuttleworth sketch, "Wyatt Earp," of Earp as a young man... before his arrival in Dodge City, Kansas.

The poem is from Brief Lives, my poetry chapbook published in 2007.

Wyatt Earp (1909)

The Mojave rattlers are terrified,
leave the bald man to crawl his copper holes.
He lists his occupation as Mining Dynamo
that winter.  A man of sixty-one should
not have to kill for Wells & Fargo,
but he shovels one more grave in weeds
for a debtor to float below sand.  Sadie huffs,
helps Earp lug a fluid-dripping body
from the Packard's back seat,
nags that the brass trim is tarnished.
At midnight it rains like ten men pissing.
Sadie slips into an unbutton-me-quick chaos dress,
but Earp is not in the mood.  Why, she asks,
are we always one step from heaven?

Theodore Roosevelt (1904)

Here's a poem from Brief Lives, a poetry chapbook of mine (2007):

Theodore Roosevelt  (1904)

He orders the train to a dead stop,
lumbers into high Nebraska blue stem grass.
In a hundred years, our luck must not
dog us.  Beside him, like forceps clamping
a stillborn's head, a Secret Service agent
takes a fiddle from a case and sings
New York headlines.  Summer thunder.
He is on his way home to the White House,
braying love for his ranch on the Little Missouri.
We must not be strong-armed by knaves
who'd cut our timber to twirl velvet purses.
Porters spread a blanket among sun-whitened
horse bones, serve fresh roasted yellow corn.
Teddy drinks from a shooting trophy mug.