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The West is a Place That Kills and Kills and Kills

They made it up one morning

to keep the money busy

and kill everyone else

I lean against the gas station wall

a few miles outside Yellowstone

sketching a stranger’s face

under the dirty skillet of night

What will save me is the taste of miles

killed with the wheel of blank stars

with alone sound of struck string

on the dead highway

I’m working mink oil into my boots

mountain lions drag elk to the cabin door

The old man we pick up in Browning

coughs diesel and range

Snow blocks us from fishing the reservoir

wiper blade waving as if to flag us down

A dog pisses on my tackle box at the Conoco

The guide who leads us here

catches fish like a covenant he’s entered into

Will such mastery save me It doesn’t him

Halfway up another river the Lostine

trout lacquer over calico stone

Early sparrow calls us together

into the tent which I zip up in one motion

The yearling sets deer-heel

down in payment on flattest moss

Like any river its job is to take away

A friend’s son dies

A week in their house full and desolate

opens a room inside me

throws open slams the door

Outside the battlefield garden’s left to nettle

bone-white trellis an old-time tragedian

The roof is molting

The porch is wolving

In the garage I find no rake

only the animal we’ve been hunting and avoiding

still in the bat’s tooth of its cage

from Poetry Northwest 05.2 Fall & Winter 2010 & 2011More by Ed Skoog from the library

Copyright © Ed Skoog
Used with the permission of the author
on behalf of Poetry Northwest.

Published in Ed Skoog Poems

This program is supported in part by a grant from the Idaho Humanities Council, a State-based program of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this (publication, website, exhibit, etc.) do not necessarily represent those of the Idaho Humanities Council or the National Endowment for the Humanities.