Shelly Taylor

[Steel mine. I scream bullhorn. Deaf hammers]




Steel mine. I scream bullhorn. Deaf hammers


& walled-up orangutan, I make him epic


as the horse trade, its leaving marks a trail down the beach.


I step hooves to cloudline where there’s seagulls


the cats know by name: injure, all white-haired men air borne


& riding fast for child or bread, I make hasty myself fasting.


Good girl, that slow dying for your everlasting war-torn,


give it flowers, its fish, the very sea. There is this water I


wrenched against, there is mine & that which will forever elude,


eyes the envoy, hazel & changing, you just cannot.


The styling is rigid, shoulder pads down to girdle; how strange


the rifle pulled, the shot finality, its left ringing my ears taped til morning.


Home of the built right, I went glossy to get a stake in life


as perpetual, as in liquid, the house that is home


from a magazine you wanna sink, it’s all lilacs & too assumed.


Some horses are raised to race, femurs, hocks that know a straight line body


to the earth, how I rode the couch arm, them, made myself


a derby champion would’ve been wifey, you won’t know the church I


felt on it. Disbelief! I tell the horse gone past


I don’t know where, sometimes you & I are like a warrior—to keep myself


up on it, shrunk down but a little hawk-like I have such mutiny; Dolly


circa Truvy Jones at my shoulder, good mother taking over


for Sister Mary cause Sister Mary don’t talk enough. Because this is nature


towards the noose. There are parts in us that call whiskey, the one


I can never again say mine now we are think fast on two feet. But God


don’t count this way, he’s a little stone I curled around I called your father.

[Peaches we’re moving past this place]




Peaches we’re moving past this place




but every time that song starts up again my body is hay hook


jerked back past Meridian where the dirt is scarlet.




Two children, both tall & thin on the front porch leaning hard to the railing


just as somber as one more day went down—the storm I can weather—one dead




or dying tree left to the cotton field’s center: sentimentality.




Red heat, a dirt line slogan




grown older, both our insides hit the limit;


we were country girls, changing clothes beside the roadside getting city ready




suitcases flung out the backseat, she & I so disfigured


every girl you’ve ever been poolside just a-poppin it til it hurts.




Something grown inward says relent, is given a low field, yellow chasm, the sun.




Go on & bet the weevil on it, the horse


is pacing treads in the field, airport landing lights at dusk just behind their legs




their years’ long babies & blown apart.

[Music, for if you do not dance your mother will die]



Music, for if you do not dance your mother will die




she will lift out her bed, life itself is this experience.  Hog the covers, he the lamp,


my right half gone halfway the world into his most rightly slot




somebody bigger than I can say made years ago, a mold of two bodies,




my soldier’s crooked smile in a photo by the Parthenon, his knees always dirty.




It might as well’ve been a dinner party, my new blue dress.  Not the white


I wore for you, hooks & buttons, my white skinny legs hanging out red shoed.




My right to remember, his for your kingdom; I sleep the summer, the fall, wake




I the slippage, the days




early dark, ergo yourself:  keep your eye on your man like the devil desires him.

[Excise the fall, the birds, the trees,]




Excise the fall, the birds, the trees,


new again up out the very chasm, do not


involve yourself in my tearing apart


such gentility I’ve never possessed, say it again,


the world at once wonderful on a sax, red shoes forever.


Such penance for living too much


on earth, that taking me back upward


into a balled self, for no one dares touch an invictus


cloaked child in the middle of the wood,


such somethingness you cannot lack for.


And when I became your father something gaped about


the town, I fathered it thus taking this town in my belly,


my hands round your shoulders


wounds tipping the water back his head above,


a painting called Collapse but I am not that woman.




SHELLY TAYLOR lives in Tucson and is the author of Lions, Remonstrance (Coconut Books, 2014) and Black-Eyed Heifer (Tarpaulin Sky Press, 2010). Her most recent chapbook is Dirt City Lions (Horse Less Press, 2012) and others are out from Dancing Girl and Portable Press at Yo-Yo Labs.