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January 16, 2012


by John

WE DROVE ALL NIGHT. By Red Shuttleworth. (Finishing Line Press, P.O. Box 1506, Georgetown, Kentucky 40324) 25 pp. $12.

Red Shuttleworth covers a lot of ground with this little chapbook of 22 poems. His vistas are varied and wide between lines that look in, as well as out, upon the unique West that we’ve inherited and occupy with the time-clash of ‘kettle-bang thunder’ as each image bucks and runs into the next. With bright and incisive eye, he stirs paradoxes with some tenderness by offering seductive glimpses of real people and places—only barely different from ourselves. ‘Champion roper at twelve,’ “Barbara Moffett (1940)” strips at Hollywood’s Florentine Gardens:

                                               …orchidaceous. But next spring,
                    road money earned, she hopes to win the Saugus Rodeo,
                    have a beer, go shirttail to the frisky wind.

Or the conversation between prizefighters Stanley Ketchel and “Jack Johnson (1909)”:

                    When I think about God,
                    Ketchel says, it makes me cry.
                    Nail holes never heal. Johnson grins,
                    Circle God to his left, unload a right.

Each snapshop colorful, Shuttleworth can either ride through town on a gust or make a study of human nature

                    with a jar of Kessler’s whiskey and water
                    in yet one more deadfall groggery
                    with some ruddy, pocked, half-starved
                    barn dog claiming direct decent
                    from Bat Masterson or Pearl Starr.

With the hard facts, his poetry is almost always sensual, and sometimes voyeuristic as he reasonably ignores his father’s advice in “Tip Fogarty (1963)”:

                    But I love how she poses in the midnight center
                    of her daddy’s pasture, the robe untied, quarter smile,
                    smackin’ hot in the thick white headlight beams
                    of my Dodge pick-up, like a special picnic treat,
                    not one flaw from God, no silly teasing,
                    like I’m some Swedish film director
                    at the high noon of his heart’s requirements.

Our native correspondent, only Red Shuttleworth offers this mirror to, of and from the West we might not otherwise see. “We Drove All Night” is a delightful ride to sip and take slowly, to enjoy and digest.

Read more from REVIEWS, We Drove All Night

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