2012 Charles Shull Award for Traditional Poetry, First Place
Facts About Early America
Early postal service horses grew wings, breathed fire on mail bandits
before the national occupation was twin towers falling into a hole.
Actors performed paradoxes, accompanied by player piano,
clavichord and accordion. Air rushed every open hole.
Dogs died and lay dead, decomposing peacefully.
They were not deer. Their bellies were not gaping holes.
Breweries made black beer, the smell of which could make a man
see his dead mother. The rim of the glass, a neverending hole.
Live presidents, all the Skull and Bonesmen, sent their clavicles
to a secret crematorium in West Virginia, under Friar’s Hole.
Cherokee sent three men into the woods; their sons fired shots
in the Bolshevik Revolution on men ordered to dig their own holes.
Thought traveled by telegraph wire. A man invented an ice truck.
Another, a plane. Every ghostly radio voice came from a living whole.
There was magic here, then. There was Captain America, Motown, electricity,
atom-splitting, the cold fusion hoax, a telescope hurling toward a black hole.
A man holes up in a cave. A few crude cutting instruments later,
Bruce Springsteen’s organizing benefit concerts for a hole.
Early cremators became postal horses. The chamber holding white ash
and bone is the retort. Lift the retort to the urn’s mouth-hole.