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.
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.