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Ice rain falling and Bukowski comes to mind,
his poem on style, which has to do, finally,
with grace or lack of it, which is why
we like girls with that antelope kind of lope.
There’s no grace in fat, no grace
from the hearts of men who wear ties,
no grace from no-Eros stentorian women.
Seventeen year old girls used to have grace
back when I was seventeen and eighteen
and nineteen, and Irish girls who snicker
at Mass usually have grace if they
don’t have the kind of thick ankles
you can see too often in Cork.

Ice rain is falling and the wolf-dog grins
as he drags me onto crusted snow
a foot deep. What is so goddamned fascinating
about half-buried-in-snow sagebrush?
Who, precisely, pissed here?
That is the canine question.
The human questions are always
about other people’s gratitude,
or love, or sex lives, or dope habits.
And this brings Charles Bukowski
to mind… and how the academic poets
never really liked him
and how Bukowski was loved
by the French, who have style,
even when they are gutless.

Yeah, ice rain is coming down
as if written by James Joyce in something
like Dubliners or maybe in expatriate dreams.
And it’s falling, falling when I have the wolf-dog
sit, goddamnit, sit, so I can piss on the sagebrush
that is so important to him tonight.
I am drinking late… not writing,
terrified of finishing a screenplay
I have no idea of how to pitch.
I am drinking late and hearing
(no electronic help here) old friends
curse assholes with finished basements,
because, somehow, a finished basement
reveals a jagged, busted window
in one’s soul. So a girl comes to mind,
and girls always come to mind,
like what does she look like at sixty-four?
And then I don’t want to keep that
thought rumbling in my skull.

Drinking late… not writing,
I mention to the wolf-dog
that he is going to catch up with me
in the age run. He just wants to go
back outside so he can run circles
around me like an over-medicated canine.
He will not entertain the concept of aging.
But so what? He likes my singing,
which will not lead Tom Russell to ask me
to record a duet with him anytime soon.
But the wolf-dog likes my singing
so much that he dances on ice…
nearly goes down as I laugh.

Ice rain is falling and I want none of it.
But I have all that I can possibly own.

2 Comments Post a comment
  1. Apr 1 2011

    This is one of my favorite Red Shuttleworth poems. (My favorites change daily because his work is rich, rich… and I have to shift over to the other side of the box of chocolates after the bursts of flavor leave me reeling.)

    • Apr 1 2011

      I know. For me, it was love at first sight – images and emotions sliding into and out of one another, quite ‘gracefully’… perhaps a helpless grace, an underlying acceptance of a moment that gets richer… one of my favorites, too.


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