Shelly Taylor

Here is a body, go do what you will



How crude two legs.  And cloak-stripe she went all alabaster out of the Lord’s

hands, her mama’s hips, into God what you have it be, this earth.  The oak’s low

branches and family pet cemetery getting taken by a tractor driven by who knows

not the beloveds are at their eternal rest.  They hum about the plain line every

time it heats up, gives us the name gnat blowers, happens in other regions too but

then you’re just whapping the air with your hands, nothing so succinct.

You’ve got two hands too and can furrow in the earth should you choose.  The earth won’t

choose for you.  Every docent in the copse, you go all mad on your body for fear

its attrition will slaughter you in some bad luck situation, bad wind feelings, so

down on love it’ll bring your ass bent weather vanes, some freak luck situation that

warps the whole forest not just those individual and what follows is biblically

situated in what can only be described the last book of it, bye.  Don’t let the

devastation be the two legs bit of it.  Even the ox trail realigns to a river when you

are in need of water.  Even if the whole family is killed off, you are not the ignitor’s

button and have no chance of your own for survival either.  Jesus, we say.  Is that

that?  Some sinner’s prayer, broadleaves in the fickle sun, pine steps down to a

dirty river baptism, no end of it.  So you take your body and make your own light

business, there is no great otherwise.  You can get down the fiddle or by God save

the elephants so your children will see the animals not transposed in some museum

for the fallen, a burning high rise; you can create maraca elegance in own your

body and move through it a kind of jaunty dance fluid to you alone; you have your

good luck tokens, things given for free that become everything you keep in your

pocket.  You have your hopes the earth will last.

Who was it said leave it to Jesus
and I thought yes, finally



I need a mind that will rip things.  Forget about all this snail’s pace I yawn three

seconds in.  My sister and I went to a trailer barely standing in Ambrose to see

about woman about future things, a psychic if you will, I said yes ma’am repeatedly

and the woman whose trailer it was boiled over her butterbeans and said shit now

they’ve done scalded.  I lack the desperation seeks me find my needs in others, can

hex possums with my mind.  One by one they go down, smell three days before

shovel to the woods; Josephine or tear your arm off, we sisters merge with the

silence and owl cry through the pines.  This rind is not the world for that, flowers

in hair, matrimony all year, they would have to hogtie me to the ground, pace brisk

back to the horse, nod nervously the rope holds, flash a smile they’ve made the

clock I couldn’t get out of, rope, always rope.  They never ask you does it hurt you,

or has it, and so this is how you become this way, they point fingers to the sky.

There are ladies who drive north to see the changing leaves. These are the ladies

you know say put your trust in the Lord.

Let’s have you wild your thinking



Of all the things to open in the house this morning, a magnolia picked yesterday

at dusk, the smell is the room, has feet down the hall.  You’ve had your desert

periods, childhood.  You can’t vote on them and now every violent thing west to

east is little sister going home to Georgia.  Mayhaw, says the road sign, sissy got

on home when the cotton was calf-to-knee high, storms every afternoon out of

Peter’s mud hole then pure devil.  America, a couple shots out of a cannon.  As a

child I tallied my liberties too, horses, horses, horses.  Buried inside a little girl

ain’t never gonna get old.  She is out there in all kinds of weather, in her

breastbone, hooves.  I thought Jesus I’ll be righteous but can I double-check is

there wine and young boys whose papas too were rough-handed and mouthed.

Some of these boys go off and never come back.  They hide along a wood line,

become raccoons, rain, magnolia, go back and cut everything in half, then see.

There were switches, skin, crooked smile boys, their black-haired bays, never to

be seen again, but North Star, one of us had luck.  Dear bunny, there is a field

where the grass grows knee high her best discovery, kept her whole or well, no

doubt the skin falls off, can you replace it, become sprite again, even?  This

simulation makes her child fears the dark, like falling off a high ledge, a his and

hers compendium for the earth closing in.  Revel, feldspar, taken it on the chin thus

far, get your finger on it, two roosters, spurs gaffed a southern town, all southern

girls, chins on fist, waiting out summer.  Kudzu takes over everything, they say,

doesn’t belong.  What about our Nellie girl, visions and ramparts past hill country,

every lowland bog, slow down, the homestretch has always been loamy and the

mouth gates to home open, open.

There are so many ways to live on earth


There she goes all stars in eyes and loud-mouthed.  How everything gets bow-tied

yet bike riding at midnight is where it is at.  Hey universe, I don’t know what the

fuck I am doing.  There is a stand of pines, there is her relentless hustle.  There

are those formative women who have scratched your back, there is a hard desert

sun.  Somewhere is a hard pivot turn in an alleyway and a horse prone to giving it

hell.  Every beautiful animal has a nicely sculpted head.  If your horse has close

together eyes then pow.  Even sister who don’t know horses says pow.  An unwise

thing cannot be trusted.


Shelly Taylor author photo 2017
SHELLY TAYLOR is the author of two full-length poetry collections, Lions, Remonstrance (Coconut Books Braddock Book Prize, 2014) and Black-Eyed Heifer (Tarpaulin Sky, 2010). The anthology Hick Poetics, co-edited with Abraham Smith, is out from Lost Roads Press (2015). Recent work appears in Guernica’s “The Future of Language” special issue.