Poems from Wendy Taylor Carlisle


In this picture his spider-fingers

work the strings blue-veined arms flex tattooless,

smooth- skinned dirty blonde hair collapses

across his cheek the left one the one

wrecked by the exit wound.

On his old record, I can almost

make out his soft mouth moving around

that distinctive croon almost feel again

his actual ribcage fall and rise

against my cheek After that happens

I can almost but not quite feel

what he must have felt swallowing that Glock.

Choosing a Mule: an Ozark Sonnet

I have a big head and some rocks in it.

A pebble of envy sticks in my throat.

Some days knowing and being known compels me

to lift a stone. Often, the schist in my head

is a boulder so large even a pry bar

can’t do the job, it needs some animal

energy. There are a hundred beasts fit

for this occasion. I choose the mule.

A mule is a hardy puller, a case of hybrid vigor.

A mule can pack one fifth of its weight, even

the hinnies. A mule is sovereign and strong,

plus a mule requires less food than its horse

mamma. If I’m gonna find out what’s hiding

in my head, I suppose I’ll need me a mule.

Those Days

I drove on Highway 27

telephone poles on my right for a chart.

I hustled a second-hand Austin America.

I was irate.

I was on the run to Okeechobee

where I thought I’d find a begin-again.

There were only cattle in Okeechobee

so I turned around.

I drove eighty coming and going.

When the engine foundered, I hitchhiked home.

Those days were sex without protection.

Those days were endless beef and cream.

Those were summers ruined by honey.

I was sixteen

About Wendy Taylor Carlisle

Wendy Taylor Carlisle lives and writes in the Arkansas Ozarks. She is the author of two books and five chapbooks, most recently, They Went Down to the Beach to Play (Locofo Chaps, Chicago, 2017). Her work is widely available in print and online. See her in Artemis Journal, pacificREVIEW, Barzakh and forthcoming in Cider Press Review. For more information, check her website at www.wendytaylorcarlisle.com.


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