Horse Punk




Dirigibles herd the sky

over Old Fort Sumner

for no other reason


than whenever history

diverges from its course

at the behest of sci-fi writers


there are always dirigibles.


The Santa Fe Ring dirigibles

are lettered in a font

strongly suggestive


of Germany circa Kristallnacht.


Chisum dirigibles


sheath themselves in flame.





It’s 1881 and Billy the Kid

has killed Pat Garrett.


Garrett was the better shot

with a steam rifle

but nobody wielded a clockwork pistol

like the Kid.


Still Waters


for Paula



The quieter moments define the depths.

Those raging passions that churn

from silver screen and recording booth

rage only on the surface.

Take a weight

the size and density of a wedding ring,

attach it to a filament as fine as a promise;

lower it.

There are no torrents here.

A ripple smooths itself out; the surface

mirrors us again. The weight descends,

silently measuring how far, how deep.


Ode to Billy Joe Explained



Hotter ’n hell, all mornin’ out in the field

balin’ hay. This after a full week

at the sawmill. Christ, if I wain’t savin’

to marry Becky Thompson ‘n’ open a store

I’d tell Pa to shove it. Anyhows,

Mamma calls in me ‘n’ ma sister

‘n’ we all sit down to eat ‘n’ that’s when

Mamma says that dumb sonovabitch

Billy Joe MacAllister up ‘n’ threw hisself

off the Tallahatchie Bridge. Only Mamma,

bein’ a lady, she don’t say “dumb

sonavabitch”. Pa kinda says it for her anyway.

I’m jus’ about to mention how Billy Joe

came by the sawmill askin’ for twenny bucks

cuz there was this horse that cudn’t lose

‘n’ I told him to go to hell cuz I’m savin’

to marry Becky Thompson ‘n’ open a store

‘n’ I ain’t throwin’ away good money

on lame horses no more, when Brother Taylor

comes by so I don’t mention horses

or cussin’. Y’all know Brother Taylor,

right? Long cool drink of water with a Bible

who’s kinda sweet on my sister.

Anyhows, Brother Taylor says he seen

a girl looked kinda like her on Choctaw Ridge

with Billy Joe ‘n’ the two of ’em

was throwin’ sumthin’ off the bridge.

I’m guessin’ it was a bit of paper,

name of a horse on it. Then Momma

asks my sister if she’s okay ‘n’ I look over

and she’s gone white ‘n’ I remember

he’d been talkin’ to her after church

‘n’ I think “oh, you dumb broad, you gave him

the twenny – ‘n’ this some loser put a frog

down your dress when you was seven”.

Jesus! I’m gonna marry Becky Thompson

‘n’ open a store, get the hell outta this shithole.


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