"What's the world for you if you can't make it up the way you want."

-Jazz, Toni Morrison

Late Summer, In Jest, and Stop Me

Late Summer, In Jest, and Stop Me

Late Summer

In the places grass gets thick
things have persisted, dandelion,

runners from the aspen, that plant
my wife calls devilweed, but it’s

alright, it’s late, easing into fall
while I cherish the simple spirations

of empty space, milkweed, mullein,
foxglove glowing deep in the shade,

gold edging into supremacies of tan
then reds in the creeper and above

up there in night’s mingled flyways
a billion birds are slipping south.



In Jest

house opened for some minor celebration
a guy from work knocks alone, you ask
after his cute wife, he says it seems she’s
left me, a good line except you learn

he’d flown home after some business, found
the fat accounts emptied, the best furniture
gone, his young boy too, who’ll she’ll keep
till he’s eighteen and when the government

stops cutting checks, she’ll ship him back,
but that’s way later, in case you hadn’t known
which side to choose, but still it’s better than
this saturday morning you quick visit with

the shade tree mechanic, note his moping and
ask geez who died, and he says my son ricky,
little league game, slid into second, broken leg,
sliver in the bloodstream straight to his heart,

dead before I reached him, and if you were
a better man there’s no fumble for words, you
just cry, wrap your arms around your friend
and cry like nothing’s ever funny again



Stop Me

so this marine walks into a bar
maybe you’ve heard this one before
how he has a long gun with long clips and
more than enough bullets and backups
to puncture the bleakness, the flailing
stop me if you’ve heard this before
love and its spurs, straight maybe not

we’re never sure all the twists but
there was some practice to kill
some loosening of ties, some whetting
of hatred and rage, something sharp
for targets black or jewish
or just innocently happy
stop me if you’ve heard this before

how the night pulses with blue and red
wet or drying and the mothers and the
sisters and the last time ever we saw
stop me if you’ve heard this one before
who died on the table, who died on the floor
it’s okay to just stop me
if you’ve heard this before

George Perreault has worked as a visiting writer in Montana, New Mexico, and Utah. His most recent book, Bodark County, is a collection of poems in the voices of characters living on the Llano Estacado in West Texas.

Cover photo by Aleksandr Ledogorov on Unsplash