I love a gas guzzler and a wilderness
for the afternoon's edge, smoking in my SUV
in front of a ranch house full of oil money,
sitting so long its owner begins to wonder
if I'm casing the joint. His courtyards intrigue me,
but they don't carry sky, any farther than this open
square of light. His husky dog has nothing
on my V8. I talk about homes like I want one.
But I'm always running to the car, claiming
lumbar support or fresh cravings.
The longer I fall for these sotol plants
the more likely the cops will be called.
Strange people do a small town
no good, and every single place we loved
is now a sidewalk; makeout-point is a three-car
garage. These streets could easily be continued
into every other street in America, so that we
are never exactly alone.
Don't you tell me I can't love dust.
Every inch of light out there is a new rig—
and now they’re drilling horizontal, opening Texas
to its last reserves. Chasing acacia, metal monsters
nod and kiss the surface. I thought they were horses
as a child, and the pumpjack’s counterbalance
a cowpoke’s rusted boot, kicking the equine belly
over and over. The horse
nods and nods and goes nowhere.
What about fins
on a windmill
dug into the ground of me
show my shifting. I imagine
you as a pump jack,
drawing up from bedrock
that which makes men move:
grief as mesquite, tenuous,
or as the vast sky reaching
for wagon wheel, scorpion.
For me it was a kind of impatience.
You said, leave the field a little longer,
see if things improve. Where rainmen
want better gods, send cotton
and poems after everyone in the world.
Frame the Concho a heartseam, you hills
let me be unstill.
Odessa (Neon Moon)
Here the tin shades of the western bar
are seductive as the radio and the man
who isn’t yours. He who offers a new plot
near the farmlands, ranch house draw-perched
and the tip back of whatever fills you
is like the dog who loves you.
I want an acre
with which to do nothing.
I thought the city a devil’s brass section
persistent, but life here makes black noise
in the hollows, the boozy backlit
dove song and those fool peacocks
at the mansion going up across the draw.
Are you drinking with me, Jesus?
Sometimes I sit on the edge of Bluebird,
snapping nightshade with my phone. I want
eighty three and three eighty and thirty six,
and gas money and tin shades, a ranch hand
with calloused palms and a pretty truck.
Kenzie Allen is a descendant of the Oneida Tribe of Indians of Wisconsin, and a graduate of the Helen Zell Writers' Program at the University of Michigan. She’ll be starting her PhD in English at University of Wisconsin—Milwaukee this fall. Her work has appeared in Sonora Review, The Iowa Review, Drunken Boat, Boston Review, Apogee, SOFTBLOW, Indiana Review, and elsewhere, and she is a managing editor of the Anthropoid collective. She was born in West Texas, and currently lives in Norway.