Monday, May 30, 2011

Ted Williams (1972)

Ted Williams  (1972)

Dip the rear shoulder as  you land
your front foot and you won't lunge
on a Wilbur Wood knuckler, goddamnit.
With his best Texas Ranger hitting .250,
manager Teddy Fucking Ballgame is tempted
to activate himself.  He is fifty-four,
beefy, but how hard is it to sit back,
trust hips and hands, and drill Woods' pus?
Williams, 34-inch Louisville Slugger in hand,
swaggers to the water cooler.  On defense,
his boys labor to field routine grounders.
If he was twenty years younger....
Williams shuts his eyes: Korea, 1953, his F-9
fighter is aflame in the closest game he'll win.

This poem was first published in Elysian Fields ( a baseball quarterly edited by Tom Goldstein).  It was subsequently included in a Red Shuttleworth poetry chapbook, Brief Lives... and is now included, along with many other Red Shuttleworth bio-sketch poems, in Ghosts & Birthdays, a book available on Amazon.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Billboard on Highway 81

Billboard on Highway 81

Pennies of moonlight
rinse blood
off straw.
The farmhouse
is boarded up...
lips sewn together.
Here's the grey
rope from the photo:
a hanging in Yankton
a darkness ago.

Monday, May 16, 2011

This Was Once Wild Horse Country, Really?

This Was Once Wild Horse Country, Really?

Rusty center pivots and dry wells:
college psych professors
palm the heads of the homeless,
pole dancers lipstick ox blood nipples,
and a Walmart fat woman sits the backseat
of a dead Pontiac angled south on her porch,
yanks at her gasoline-odor sweatpants.

A few miles southwest, in Sparks,
poised homecoming queen candidates
strut a stage in sleek pink dresses
as mangy skateboarders, eye-pop-eager
on momma's pills, leave blood
on the front stairs of a high school.
The girl most favored to be queen giggles
on low rent vodka, swallows tobacco juice.

Little darlin' and me....  We splatter
a motel room with pork 'n' beans
semi-heated on a used hot plate.
laugh and hoist beers to the memory
of Wyatt Earp and his Tonopah saloon.

Out on the desert near Gerlach,
with the Burning Man clean-up crew gone,
autograph seekers with nylon string guitars
pester a Marilyn Monroe impersonator,
swathed in a dusty black satin sheet,
as she chloral-dances for Clark Gable's ghost.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Goodnight, Sunday Night, Goodnight

Goodnight, Sunday Night, Goodnight

The descendants of pioneers and shootists
seasonally coil and uncoil garden hoses,
say they are feeling chirpy or not so honeysuckle.
General Hooker's men named sweeties for him
and Bat Masterson later, in New York,
on whiskey-inspiration, bought an Italian sword.
No matter the wedding, I am the bridegroom.
Doc Holliday was fond of quoting Caligula.

The evening sky is volunteering blue after days
of grey.  Oh, if only to have a bust of Hemingway
in down-slope age,  his eyes laughing at a stone
taken from the Craters of the Moon one sober evening.
The TV is on in the other room and someone is gabbling
like a goony about the price of oil, someone with no trophies
in an epoch when everyone gets a trophy, if only for bowling,
which is not sport, failing to meet even sewage-standards
for grace and character.  The evening sky
appears to be a cathedral's stained glass.

The descendants of pioneers and shootists
always know where their refrigerators are,
though the children are problematic... given, as they are,
to splitting apart from themselves, Twittering-wild,
I'm on a dark bridge... frozen in emptiness.
The evening sky stretches, brightens at horizon,
carries the perfume of rushing spring rivers,
sings a soft song of new planted spring pines.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Old Silver... Aged Stars Over Nevada.. The Usual Bluff

Rhyolite, Nevada

Old Silver... Aged Stars Over Nevada...  The Usual Bluff

A little money to amuse yourself, half a continent to drift,
you're a blue, past-peak gunslick of the non-rhyme.
Today you're driving either 35 or 95, nothing average,
seeking badger-silence and the next cinderblock motel.

And those stars overhead with ragged postage stamp edges,
glitter-wishes for the begging.  And the sleek Chinese girl
at Mona's Ranch in Elko refuses to believe you're only there
for the T-shirt, because she wants to camisole-strip real slow.

Legends have their own cares: Doc Holliday coughs
against the underside of his Glenwood Springs gravestone.
And Jesus fondles Mary M.'s breasts, pounds a wine jug
off a kitchen table in heaven to scare off fans and missionaries.

And... when you switch on the motel bathroom light,
it flashes before dying.  With whiskey head-throb,
with strawberry-taste skin-memories of someone,
it's good to sleep with a .45 below a pillow.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Steve McQueen (1960)

Steve McQueen  (1960)

He fixes on the actress who is watching
sweat drip off her chin onto a handheld mirror.
Acting, man, beats having your brain vibrate
into Jello-O in a factory.  But it's all a box,
six feet long, maybe with blue linen lining.
He takes off a cowboy boot, rubs his foot.
Look, I don't mind cloth napkins with a meal,
maybe a steamy kiss between sucks on weed.
McQueen whispers something to the actress,
squints, pulls the boot back on by its mule ears.
Let's figure I live to sixty.  Can you see me
some November day, like an old cow skull,
lying on a chaise longue by a Hollywood pool,
pooched belly, mouth a graveyard of teeth?

This poem first appeared in Chariton Review (edited by Jim Barnes).

Steve McQueen (1960) is featured in Red Shuttleworth's forthcoming poetry chapbook from Finishing Line Press: We Drove All Night ( the chapbook can be pre-ordered from Finishing Line Press at the web site under "New and Forthcoming Books).

WE DROVE ALL NIGHT, a poetry collection from RED SHUTTLEWORTH

Wolfie and Red Shuttleworth


can be ordered from