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
Pontiac,”
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).

 

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