Thomas Cole


A wolf shudders. Its savage lips
Are wet with river and
It watches me and the gift
Of meat dangled from
My red fingers.
I will tame it.


A woman pushes.
Her lips catch
A ridge of sweat.
Hair tangled in hot, herbal
Roots. Her mother’s
Red palms deliver Arcadian sons.


Pink lateens fill with
Mediterranean wind.
The corpulent man at the dock
Consummates my bribe
With a damp smile.
I pray I am not caught red.


Revolution billows
Smoke and destruction and
All men and women run or
Clutch at swords exiting the
Red gashes rent through white
Linen stolas.


A wolf shudders. Its lips
Remember the green taste
Of water running over desolate
Mineral rocks.
It used to hunt with men.

Captain America

Red, white ricochet
Pings like hot elastic stretched to breaking,
Deafening as it kicks—not a mule—
A child’s fist thumped into your slung shoulder.
Gung-ho. Your backpack gains a pound
With every trigger-squeeze.
Your soul as well.

We watch your war unfold on flat panels:
In nightgowns and in towels, in hotels,
At airport terminals, on ticker-tape
And talk-shows whose hosts boast
Of your superhuman prowess.

Your conflict blends seamlessly with the cinematic:
A universe of violence
We are forced to inhabit.

At home:
We reinforce our values as prescribed by the Disney channel.

You enact Disney’s policy through the mouth of a gun barrel.

Riding Into Sunset

I wish to dive into a world of rust and sun.
To view a Pickup parked along a scuff of dusty asphalt,
Where under its pollen-furred veil—
Soft as the brown velvet
Of a buck’s newly shed antlers—two trailing fingers
Might reveal
A dipping ochre finish, low as the setting light.

And you can picture a Gas Station
Miraged in the distance.
A Coca-Cola machine and other faded iconography
Supplements the well-signalled Mise-en-Scène of honest,
Salt-cast folks who speak in Banjo twangs
Of wisdom—never with education—and whose
Hearts show
Not on their sleeves, but rather through
The broadness of their smiles and the wide gaps plucked
From imperfect rows of teeth.

To go there I would need a ticket: to sail porous eyes
Across a silver screen and absorb
Our new pathway to the soul, my own rendered small
Opposite the great billboard lit with humble men,

Of sharply projected and handsomely rugged gunmen—
Their morals taught prescriptively
Through the tightly scripted reams
Of pictures spun; a carob coloured Cattleman’s hat
Shading leery eyes from Arizona’s Technicolor sun.

And their larger-than-life, subliminal fun
Is brought to life by a gleaming cast of Stars
Whose slick tongues whip with Godly precision
Through an eloquent run
Of dialogue perfectly written.

So that when I leave the screen it is with a
Cowboy’s saunter.
And it might seem that his ideas were mine all along.
And I might watch for new villains lurking
Around every corner.
And with his charming arrogance, I might believe
That I am never wrong.