They got me because our canteen over-quenched civilian curiosity
They got me because two hands on your saddle horn I lost the reins
My name is not his name, his eyes
are not your eyes. They got me
and they will do it again

They got me short-sheeted, short-sighted, short-changed
and settling for seven-and-seventy in a world of ninety-two
They got me because when the hour-hand spirals
the jig is up and when the jig is up steam grates make room
for a new arrival in camp

You lied

They got me heels in stirrups it was spurs that kick up the dust
Engulfment is only one part of the hazard
Oklahoma winds whipped fire into fury
Texas caught ash on windshields and porch swings—
locusts not far behind

They got me Tuesday
scratching sound from a diamond needle
They got me Thursday
when silo dust caught a spark

I’ve been careless, carefree, careening—
collateral damage spills secrets on the street

They got me because cable never sleeps
because steeple bells run on gasoline
They got me in the basement when I was 5
refusing the boys a view under my sunflower dress
Mother spent seven years under a slow-dry stylist cap
waiting for the ringing in her own ears to stop
They got me because seasoned carcasses of cattle are
molded into blank verse

Captured and bound—
the crumbling white crystals
of another curious wife

I fall into their hands like salt—
like pink-crusted himalayan eyelashes
like a bruised-heel march to a saline sea
like rocks crushed in the grinder
that we pass to the left at dinnertime
this night, every night
before evaporating
into a lonely desert
howl


After James Tate’s “I take back all my kisses”