Poetry: Chuck Rybak


Honestly, who can stand to sit and watch

another dusty western? Who can stand to suffer

an umpteenth posse of wide-brimmed bullshit

riding into town to swing open the saloon doors

of our 21st century lives? Who in these parts can stomach more

howdy partner okey dokey I reckon yessum yonder spit?

Or stand the laissez-faire foreplay of player-piano men

squinting through close-ups

whether the fat sun burns high noon or not?

Yee-haw. It’s the outhouse gang:

infested with tough guys clad in denim and chaps

who take ten-gallon, tough-guy craps on entire towns

that genuflect to sinners then cast out their saints.

Memo to two guys who stare into each other’s eyes,

twitching dirty fingers, itching to draw—

wake us up when you are dead,

when the dadgum curtain drops

on this comme-ci comme-ça corral,

on the good, the bad, and the unbearably boring,

when us adults can finally sweep Silly the Kid

and his tumbleweed credos into our great cultural compost.

Looky here, four-of-a-kind is just four dipshits

playing cards. And you know what beats a Royal Flush?

A Flying Fuck, if we care enough to at last lay down our bluff.

Can we finally walk out of this film,

even when the cowboys outnumber us?

Will they stick up every stagecoach

packed tight with anti-macho cargo?

Will they rustle us range cattle hoofing

toward the horizon? Toward the warm world

beyond men, beyond six-shooter logic,

beyond slapped sunsets that swing from a rope?

Know that before we take one step

a man with steely blue eyes will hang

a welcoming star on our chest. We’ll be deputized

and lawfully stride in the rhythmic ring of spurs.

Ain’t that something—we’re moving up.

He’ll hand us the keys to the jail,

a toothpick for our mouths, a desk for our feet.

Take a load off, partners.

Forget the bridge, the rails, the dynamite.

The plunger sits unmanned, its hot wires

disconnected from the projector’s blazing bulb.

The western locomotive powers on,

twenty-four frames a pop,

through the propped façades of freedom.

All rights reserved to Chuck Rybak.

Poetry: Rebecca Fremo

Poetry: Rob MacDonald