The cowboy had broad shoulders
Like Jeremiah Johnson
And red hair like brushfires.
His nose broke like the Flint Hills.
The traces of barbwire
In his palms—dead trees
At the edge of a lake.
The cowboy said:
“I slit the throat of a calf
Caught in the fence.
You look like I could marry you.”
In the mirror behind the bar: all the people
Laughing with vodkas in their hands.
My face soft like Wichita. Always
My mother’s face. I said thank you, thank you
And slipped away after the bathroom.
I know who Jeremiah Johnson is, yes.
I boarded a time machine for 1983, when Dayton Ohio thrived under hostile market conditionslisten to this poem
Toho blew Godzilla up giant-size for cameras.
He is normal, like us, and tries to sell me Van Halen
And Journey at his record store.
I told him to shove those bands up his green ass,
Suggested we duel
For my satisfaction. I shot Godzilla in the leg
Even though he deloped first fire.
The doctor had to amputate.
The gland, located above the ankle,
Which gave him flame-breath, had to go too.
Godzilla said he could still sell records
Then asked what I did for a living in the first decade of the 21st century.
I lied, said minor league basketball player. “Christ,
We could’ve conceptualized the duel scene
As slam dunk contest. You could’ve still won.”
I explained I didn’t want to live
At the end of monoculture.
In the future, Van Halen and Journey tour
And they sing the same song over and over.
I’m sorry for the shot. He said “You’re fine,
The oxycodone kicked in.” He needed to learn how to walk
With crutches, how to balance with his tail,
How to pound his chest and scream again.