Four Poems

Mike Young


Lake’s Too Low No You’re Too Low

Everybody’s got a theory on how they drain the water. In taco trucks and dungarees, we drive to buy new Old Spice. Saw once, measure up! It’s not my fault they held the Daytona 500 on Valentine’s Day. Snack cakes over reruns. Weeping into goat’s milk from the Farmer’s Market. Jared hit on Ashley in the Copa Del Oro. We had like, twenty-six valedictorians. Ten of them was Ashley. At least. Garbage bag curtains. Pall Malls in the shower. Trace an island from a cartoon in the slime and rust. My paladin’s +27, and I walk home in my P.E. shirt. Local punk bands nourish spit and goof press shoots. Ain’t no treehugging fag flute. Nu-metal in the Meat Barn. Drudge your tire ruts on the levee for the Craigslist love connection. Man it’s hard to be water in this town. People wish for rain and golf carts. Clifford skins a cat and hides his fireworks in there. Do you think Arnold Schwarzenegger has a favorite toothbrush? That he’s ever cut hisself shaving what for train rattles? That he’s fiddled with the spigot but the water’s gone to shrug? It’s not MC Oroville’s fault they never stop the train. Bath sandals, sockless in the Olive Garden. Fanciest seats in town. If I’m still here when the rash hits, burn on down the bowling alley and build a bowling alley. Toke a motherfucking moonshot. Okay, everybody. We’ll listen one per lawn chair. We’ll call on you and then you call on somebody else. Hang on. You’ve gotta shut up for a spell. Arnie turned the shower on, but all that fell was deer shit.

The Age of the Tire Boat

You are not the mallard feather on the easy chair. Nor any of the horses’ teeth delusional in stoves, bats above the futon chasing tenants on the lam. You are not the inn condemned by council or the coach of flags convicted. You never wept in boxcars in a pair of stolen gym shorts. Scrunchies of the cheerleaders or cheerleaders gone sag. Matrons of the cheerleaders in orange pajama court. We bought all these extension cords for mothballs jimmy rigged. Mosquito fog evaporates and we just try for decent. You are not the features now excluded from the record. Propane guns to skit away the birds from off the rice. Bluegill which we long ago imported from the east. You are not the Peg Leg mine with thinilite from tufa. Did you hide in vug caves or chug all of the V-8? Every time you see another leaf, invent a winter. Did we talk about the socks in the motel near Cornucopia? How every Buddhist here will strip their flannel in the mud? Who among you napped upon the stoop of crystal shops? Hollering it’s horse shit to the tenants on the lam. We sanded clean the shuffleboard in basements of the Eagles. Another lonely drink to be invented after sheetrock. We are of the accents all particular to rain. Stink of eucalyptus and the pragmatism gurp. Faint inside the boxcar and you’ll dream of oxen tail. You are just a canyon where we’ll find a leak to ford. You are not the Oregon Trail which is not a valentine. You are not your clicker finger on the buffalo.

The Age of the Tire Boat

You are not the Maidu with the acne scars. Grumbling over customers, people ain’t what people was. You are not the fleece and flat-brimmed cap of Earnhardt. Nor exiting the freeway for the tie-dye/bison jerky. Tell me that don’t smack of beef. Hey are those my sunglasses no wait those wrap around. Now you’ve been the curtains made of garbage bags. Once you were a spider that got stuck inside your drill. They say when your ears ring, that means God broke another train horn. You check inside the RV, make sure that shit is battened down. Y’all who reckon all of this is yours, always barking that “It’s cold” instead of “I’m cold.” That shit rots my handle off. You are not the feathers that we glued against our rawhide. You are not the poppies that my uncle drove in buckets. You are not poinsettias that my aunt bought for their trailer. Babe is that a rickshaw that the po-po be harassing? Officer, what about the taste of snow. What about the holy siblinghood of griddles and a blizzard. You are not the people which I guess ain’t what they was. Is the people coming? Do we have to call the blood? Give me all the sweat hocks hazarding their please. Didn’t you see Black Bart on a snowmobile? Didn’t we chew sausages by kerosene? I know I’ve seen your body since your skin is dry like that. If it was a feather, sure. If it was your feather, officer, well shoot. I’d tuck it in like this.

Ishi Never Learned to Shake Hands

How did his brain end up in Maryland? Ask him about the Yahi. Make him map the burials. Mohair in the bears left. You get so hungry, you eat the fiddlenecks. Did he make that movie with Errol Flynn? Can we talk about it if it happened in Chico? Flintknapping and the archery tournament. Name of only Man because he had no one for the ceremony. Dazed in the corral. Butchers in their wide aprons, shaking blood off to gawk. Savage in the Chronicle. Fathers in jean jackets, daughters with hot dogs. TJ visits the mural painter and frosts his hair. MC Oroville drives a fire truck through the Salvation Army sleepaway camp. Leaves that pass for winter. Crawdads underfoot. When making arrowheads for the public, Ishi used the bottom of beer bottles. Caboose for the brewery. Bolo shirts at the fair. Are we allowed to talk about it if we were all tweaking? Can I steer the train now? Is the black ice a game? The American Ishi Degree is awarded to any archer who can match Ishi’s 1914 archery scores. Or better. This award only goes to an average of 1-3 people each year, due to its complexity. Ishi stumbled off the boxcar to the Meat Barn. Nobody saw him dancing with the Rancid cover band. Ishi is a truck road in New Guinea. We are not loggers. We are linguistics of varied isolation. Ishi’s in a helicopter above the Amazon, snapping shots of the uncontacted. In the Kinglsey Cave Massacre of 1871, the white men shifted to a revolver because the rifles made the babies drip. Ishi was fascinated not by the show or the lady singer, but by the sheer size of the audience. Is there tuberculosis in the mural? MC Oroville cooked a salmon full of mining silt. We see through mercury and check the mandarins for v-chips. The museum staff cremated MC Oroville with acorn meal and obsidian flakes. BMX bikes blow tires on arrowheads. We play hackey sack with fish guts. I was thinking of your heart the other day. I was on a plane and I was wondering if that was okay, I mean, that I was up there thinking about your heart.