PoetryIssue 03 | February 2009

Two Poems by Stephen Bunch

Dream Rat

He wears a fedora and gives me a lift
in my father’s ’48 Desoto
with a bison skull wired to the front.
Grilled buffalo, he chortles
and asks where I’m going, then grinds
his teeth while I answer, Any
empty blue house up the road

He cocks his head and aims
a black unblinking eye my way,
whiskers fluttering
in the air conditioner’s steady blow.
Empty blue is a color I don’t know,
he squeaks, then flips off
a passing trucker.

That’s deep, I say. He lights
a cigarette and exhales,
Deep blue I can dig.
How ‘bout some music,
a little “Terraplane Blues”
or Sonny Boy’s “Straight Eight
tapping a claw
on the radio buttons, cigarette
bobbing as he mumbles.
You got “Stray Cat Blues?”
I ask and poke him in the ribs.

No, but I got “Foolkiller.”
Keep that up, pilgrim, and you’ll
be thumbing it again.

I wonder aloud if having eyes
on the sides of his head
makes it difficult to drive.
He says no, head turned he sees
forward and backward at once,
a rodent Tiresias with greasy
clumped hair, doesn’t use
the rearview except as a hook from which
his Playboy bunny air freshener dangles.

Thanks for that, by the way,
I say, as he squints in the mirror
and sighs. Get my sunglasses outta
the glove box, will ya,
and see if any beers are left
in that cooler behind your seat.

His tail thumps on the console in time
to Mose Allison’s left hand on the keys.
The foolkiller’s comin’, he squeals along,
he’s gettin’ closer everyday.

I reach for the cooler, look
out the rear window, and see
no horizon, only empty blue sky.

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About the author

Stephen Bunch lives and writes in Lawrence, Kansas. His poems have appeared recently in Ithaca Lit: Lit with Art, Mudlark, Rootdrinker, Read his chapbook, Preparing to Leave (the title poem of which first appeared in The Literary Bohemian).


Read our current issue:


Two poems by Anne Babson
Vignette, Townhouse, 9 a.m. by Troy Cunio
Night Becomes Day Over the West by Megan Foley
Yukon River Aurora by D. B. Goman
Two Poems by David Havird
Cretan Love Letter by Emily Linstrom
Holland by Rick Mullin
Fear in Kenya by Kristina Pfleegor
The Lounge Lizard by Ed Shacklee
Two Poems by Sarah J. Sloat
Night Flight by Vicki Stannard
Koinonia Farms by Alina Stefanescu
Thessaloniki, Four a.m. by Anastasia Vassos
Imaginary Oceans by Jason Warren
Two Poems by F. J. Williams

Postcard prose

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Travel notes

Anchorage in the Great Land by Karen Benning
The Value of Small Money by Megan Hallinan
Screensaver by Sandra Larson
Thirty Cents by Tommy McAree
Gokarna by Kate McCahill
Going Places by Rachel Miller-Howard
Susanville CA: Notes From The Road by Susan Volchok