June 2012- Week 2

June 11, 2012

THREE OF THE WEST

   GARY ELDER                                                                                                                
   BILL HOTCHKISS                                                                                                          
   LEN FULTON

I rode with one of the men to meet
another on the Sacramento
and the trailers of winter rain cloud
were smoke to me 
        and up the valley
into the foothills to see a third
at a compound of wood smoke and in
a week I would think to kill myself
                      and among
big metacowboy men
of the West were Elder and Hotchkiss
and Fulton and easy toward one
another and with me
        if not the
America behind the rains of
nineteen seventy-nine and I saw
the two that only time
                      the winter
I rode a truck with one and watched and
listened to who were men of the pen
and older than I and had done more
        and in a week I
would think to go to Coronado
and kill myself and did not and of
the winter three
                      no one’s on the bay
or the river or in the foothills
and I the living am elsewhere but
the California part of me
is wondering what they will write next
        not thinking
of Coronado Bridge

Rodney Nelson work began appearing in mainstream journals long ago; but he turned to fiction and did not write a poem for twenty-two years, restarting in the 2000s. So he is both older and “new.” See his page in the Poets & Writers directory
http://www.pw.org/content/rodney_nelson
for a notion of the publishing  history. He has worked as a copy editor in the Southwest and now lives in the northern Great Plains. Recently, his poem “One Winter” won a Poetry Kit Award for 2011 (U.K.); it had appeared in Symmetry Pebbles. His “Upstream in Idaho” received a Best of Issue Award at the late Neon Beam (also England). The chapbook Metacowboy was published in 2011, and another title, In Wait, is due this year.

Dead Bolt

Purple thunderheads climb the horizon.
Maria sits alone in the kitchen, the house dark,
muggy as the front room at Taylor’s mortuary.
Randy starts to the refrigerator, but reconsiders,

easing into the chair opposite the wall.
She lets her thoughts rumble in her chest, distant,
building in the west, driven by the heat.
When finally she opens her mouth, sentences

slam against the windows. Her verbs
are wind, her proper nouns lightning.
He feigns indifference to storm. Her hair, matted
to her forehead, is splayed like rain beaten wheat.

You need to brush your hair, he interrupts.
She throws a salt shaker at him. It clatters
against the chili pot on the stove. He shoves
the table and grabs the pepper shaker.

She runs for the bathroom and slams the door.
He kicks her chair. It clatters across the kitchen floor,
and spins to a stop against the dog’s bed.
She dead bolts her heart; steel clicks against steel.

Al Ortolani is a teacher from Kansas. His writing has appeared in a number of periodicals, across the United States: *New Letters, New York Quarterly, The English Journal, The Midwest Quarterly *and others. He has three books of poetry, *The Last Hippie of Camp 50* and *Finding the Edge,*published by Woodley Press at Washburn University, and *Wren’s House*, recently released from Coal City Review Press in Lawrence, Kansas. He is active with the Kansas City Writer’s Place and an editor with *The Little Balkans Review*.

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