Contributor Notes

Shelly Taylor

Shelly Taylor






It’s napalm, rigor mortis.  You chop the onion to live.  Salud es vida:  a little flame for a second filmed black & white / spend a little time with me away from doctrination / radiation meters for children / I’m always thinking about that / the hills yellow-rubbed as dawn we can’t see the other side of or beyond with the force of a cattle prod leading to crime.  Somebody should’ve told me this when I was fourteen / dare I run through the thicket barely visible in the growing dark looking for the cat, Thomas Jefferson inconsolable, this solid thinking between a gun & a bird at the top of my fear list.  I am not here for her / I am unforgiving the hardness of your body, what awaited resistance / body, the simplest thing toting about makes limp. 

What will I wear?  I could have told you long ago this would happen / these nights remind you of your youth, barefooted to the barn for Hontas & the old mare, rake the aisle I’ve never found anywhere so noiseless, country on the dusty radio propped up on a cinder block.  Such harshness grows within you I presume / it leads to foodstands in Europe & every little hooker in a Red Light District, you cry bad mama / cannot hold for dear life, manhood, with eyes half-shut.  What I did my invictus self is let him take up too much / & all the men too ready to say doll baby, slip room numbers under a highball / —& now the ice cream truck starts its belling down the avenue just given up on childhood / up on the rooftop, click, click, click, fingers grown worn a little weary playing on our faces—a flare for dramatics in some French novel where girls are ter-rib-le / so much for sex.  He carves out his address on the bar top with a knife, premature aggity / after all that bends outwards; women forget themselves til they are nothing, perfect faces leonine / a tad bit husky as in she has known a wolfhound, the wall punched out for watching, watch yourself.  In the still of remonstrance, we forget our face lines / a girlhood that rages still past senior citizenship: cheap date brasse, strut musketeering / her girl parts.  Give me all you have between me cleaning the house & doing my God all the things errant to get my feet a splendid come see:  you best stay on course.  Novena / my body, my home mourning, caught in a night blooming seedfruit / quiet as his legs rushed his horse’s back lurching moonward the shedrow, wholed over for one more desert year violent in the front yard, every tapestry skirt / fodder on every redbrick porch the noon, their faces.  Why women wait so, dozens of us in front our doors, handfuls of milagros for their lapels.








In this modernity of warfare a man needn’t necessarily

button his helmet strap below his chin.  In when the music starts

the town is invaded.  This is old glory, our boys giving the opposition hell. 

His mama worries, his pops worries back home.  When back home,

the town sits down on his chest making breathing trifling.  One man

on a rooftop feigning nothing in I will jump.  Bus lines run

like regular.  This is well-deserved PTSD pension Uncle.  Being pretty

he becomes the most happening thing about this town. 

From all the bottles & shots, his belly swells.  I know nothing,

name everything, tap the bookshelf, each book lives— 

has there never been a time we’ve not grieved?  You driving up the mountain

from this valley of desert could happen.  Every truck on the street is

a white Ram, at every stoplight the truck hauling who knows,

each sticker on the truck says Terror War Veteran, thus every station rips

the metal.  Look it’s Dio doing Holy Diver.  In dreams you

throw your body from the mountainside, hurling back to the desert

ground so you don’t have to think.  Video games plot

extinction of opposing forces but that shit’s gaming, no biggie.

Rest your elbows on the bartop you are safe from here on out.  I cannot

think when the phone is silent, I name yard things new ones—perlocution

because I say so.  If he should fall I would upend him a lion;

that’s what he would want me to do. 







Little boy blue I will not tend you

when your mother never did.  There are no

endings, just a straightline

whale rider, no shore, not even a trigger will find his feet

the sand, body uncurled into that of a man’s or

some far off myth to stop the sea line from ascending.  I hope

that it is as blue as it has been in my dreams. 

Warfare in the morning, he flails

side-to-side in this sweat summer, virtuoso sweat

that makes God so handy; tender of light, wrath, better you

follow the tradewinds, yourself & mercy.  Relief

to know you are still of the living—

some channel wind that drug you far off from your task of get your ass

back on the land.  Rush onward heavy-shouldered pioneers

the frogs’ endless ducking sound mating from under

every banyan & banana ripened subtropic showdown.  I think

of you, the neck that quickheld me under, cut the cord

unto the water; there are various ways of forgetting: 

strap the babies in the car & go.  Mothers need not feckless sons

or heat lightning, we never could grow older now.  Come in there are three storms

at once, the bridegroom filled up from such waiting,

freckles the tip of my nose, the newness. 

Put on that body so often lain down,

every news caption reads another one of our men of blue has gone to Jesus. 

Incandescent, every sharpshooter on the street corner is a mother.  Each

derrick has led you homeward righteously perfumed as in a strawberry’s sweetness. 

Psalm 3:  deep covers man under. 

Deliver his body grown under the grooves of a whale’s belly, my marine’s

best rifle, the pool which I tread my own legs so forceful from making home.