For Stanley Seagler
Five hundred miles from the Gulf,
he drives his combine on the bed
of the ancient inland sea. The wheat
stretches forward like golden beaches,
waves in the wind like the relentless tide.
A dove scurried up by the onrush
of the gleaner rides those waves,
seeking the sweet curl, buffeted,
then swooping in a long bend on the wind.
The crop rolls over this dry ocean
for miles toward the low horizon
hazy with the winnowing of grain
offered to the blue heavens.
In the distance, green circles of corn
and cotton are island among the waves.
Jesus Karate Glove
Advertisement on a billboard,
Gone by too fast for the fine print:
Is it possessive, Jesus’,
the karate glove of Jesus?
Or appositive—Jesus, the Karate Glove?
Why does he need it?
To protect his hands?
To soften them for his opponents
when he smites them
with crushing bad budo?
To give him a better grip
so that the Others cannot
slip away, perform a shotei uke
and get the upper hand
with their karate gloves?
To keep his hands dry
of sweat that he always drips
when he gets in a tight fix
like when he hangs on the cross
and drips on the centurions
in their dice game?
How is he a glove, the Karate Glove?
Does he protect us?
Soften our karate chop
into the world?
Help us get a grip?
Keep us dry under arms
and on brow in our tight
Or is he just a spangled
accessory like Michael Jackson
wore so we can sing
and dance his praises
more fully, joyously,
Or is it a brand?
And did Jesus sign a contract
to endorse these gloves?
Are they the best karate glove?
Compassionate karate gloves?
Miraculous karate gloves?
Do they have his signature
on them like a Pete Rose
catcher’s mitt or Barry Bonds' bat?
Are they really the best
or is he cashing in
before the public tires
of his kata?
Creation of Chupacabra
On full moon nights
it takes shape in the depths
of measureless caverns
from the very darkness,
a spectral creation jealous
of hot-blooded wanderers
under the sun .
I hear its clawed paws
thumping in the dust
of dry South Texas fields
as it scurries among the mesquite
toward the restless goats
in Esperanto’s pen.
Its mangy coyote body
and bat-eared cabeza
smell of the vampirish diet
he sucks from goats and careless children.
The credulous search for him,
but wise abuelas shut their doors,
hush their grandkids,
and tell their rosaries against
this smarmy and hornless devil.
Trudy the Cosmetologist Gives Chupacabra a Make-Over
Now, sweetie, we can take
advantage of your gaunt
and hollow face. A bit of liner
under the eyes, more blue
than that raw red. It will
accentuate those lashes, give
them more body. Some subdued
blush on your cheeks.
We really need to do something
about your hair. Luster
is what it needs, and volumizer
because, honey, it is lank,
and lank is like a skank, they say.
And perhaps tip in some highlights.
Let’s work on that posture.
Don’t stoop. It juts your head
forward, and that just ruins
your aura; that seems to invade
others’ personal space, you know.
And those razor lips,
even with that Flame-on Red
lipstick, are just too severe,
as if nights were for work
rather than fun. Let’s use
Demur Pink lip liner—it says,
“let’s dance the night away.”
Where the Tygart Valley and West Fork meet,
rats gather in rapture. The Monongahela flows
in its clay-crumbling banks from there to Pittsburgh
with rats as big as possums waving to coal barges
We lived a block up the hill
from rat local #100, and the union hall
was a jumping place. My wife, bless her soul,
encouraged the cats, any strays, in the neighborhood.
She placed pie tins of Meow-mix outside the back
porch door. The food always disappeared overnight,
but she never saw the cats, assumed they patrolled
the streets and alleys, vigilant as cops
at a doughnut shop.
One night when she set
the catfood on the steps, she heard a rustle
in the shrubs against the house. Without her glasses
but with love in her heart for the cats she knew
protected her and our house from the rowdy rats
from down on the coal docks, she peered around
the door to glimpse the cat she had heard. It came
at more a slither than a feline stalk toward the tin.
Rats must be nearsighted, too, or just intent
on Meow-mix. Not until my wife eased her head
toward the partially opened screen door did
the animal from the bushes realize it was not
alone, rear up, flip the pie tin as it pivoted to flee
and disappear down the hill with my wife’s screams
rolling down the Monongahela’s clay-crumbling banks.
Clarence Wolfshohl is professor emeritus of English at William Woods University. He operated Timberline Press for thirty-five years until the end of 2010. His poetry and creative fiction have appeared in Concho River Review, North Dakota Quarterly, Colere, Rattlesnake Review, Cenizo Journal, San Pedro River Review, and Melic Review, Houston Literary Review, Right Hand Pointing and Red River Review online. He was a featured poet in the August 2013 Red River Review. A chapbook of poems about Brazil, Season of Mangos, was published by Adastra Press (2009) and a compilation of three earlier chapbooks, The First Three (2010) and Down Highway 281 (2011) were published by El Grito del Lobo Press. In Harm’s Way: Poems of Childhood in collaboration with Mark Vinz was published by El Grito del Lobo Press in early 2013. A native Texan, Wolfshohl now lives with his writing, two dogs and two cats in a nine-acre woods outside of Fulton, Missouri.