You draped me in crimson capes
and kicked me off skyscrapers,
slapped six guns to my shins, left me stranded
surrounded by gunfighters in Deadwood,
rolled me like a two-tongued whore with a PhD,
made some vacant nights nuclear,
my forearms, raw with paper-cuts
from ace cards in hiding.
I miss your amber kingdoms,
holding court with an anvil tongue.
Glassfuls of hot-wired vocabulary,
rented persona, stuntman-for-hire.
I back-slapped bikers with inked biceps
praising your name, flirted raw with their half-naked,
midnight-haired women, somehow
managed to linger among
after-hours sidewalks and streetlights,
still breathing, in one piece, alive.
You’ve left me a porcelain head haloed with echo,
throbbing, dark as licorice, my name as lightning
etched on brushed aluminum, frosted glass,
all my tiny loves reduced to chalk lines and urban legends,
or seagulls and dumpster mornings,
five in the morning skylines hemorrhaging color.
When they found her
before the mountain thaw
frozen eyes still staring
all I could do
to keep from losing my mind
was praise God or Satan
or maybe both
for this Sears-Roebuck banjo
and a voice soaked
in enough black lung and liquor
to shoot a chilled warning
up the cloaked, raw spine
of that son of a bitch Death himself.
Troy Schoultz teaches at the University of Wisconsin – Fox Valley. He has also been employed as a security officer, a laser engraver, factory worker, non-profit executive, and for two magical summers in his teen years, a grave digger. His inspirations include abandoned places, found objects, antique store postcards, loud rock and roll, and the number five. Look for him on Facebook. He can be friendly.