The Execution

Originally appeared in the chapbook The Execution (1991)

For Richard Egan

I set out for Caledonia

On split rail conduits laced with buttermilk

Determined to catch the chalk of a moon weeping over Washington County

Cocked and primed for legato lines of sherbet-sickle

But somewhere south of Highway 8 at el. 1200+ I stumbled

My eyes spinning under lids scrubby as the hills hugging Potosi

Where that night an execution was scheduled

The ultramarine sky was circumnavigating itself

Roaring a noose to remedy its own suffering

I remember allusions to greeting cards and voiceless jokes spattered in the swirl

Wild data and heinous tales sailing like linseed over the woods of Washington County

Was I assaulting myself in a tailspin of stickers and bark screams

Tumbling ridge to hollow like some pitiful sled raging for its keeper

Everywhere oh God shaking the nightmare of oak-tide

Accelerating convulsions of the shaggy-faced rough-limbed

Goddamn it I mean a rag-tag patchwork of

Post oaks blackjack and emasculated hickory

Pock-peckered with junkyards and trailers grinning gooseflesh up the ravine

Scrawny shacks with thunderhead windowpanes gnashing

Knobs and valleys bristling viridian whiskers sopped with pine knot gravy

The same red roads drooling reflections of tableaux right out of taxidermy or old fishing manuals

Somewhere a feedstore succumbed to my cartwheeling

Two walls fleeing like curtains

But there were no cattle no fruity bales

A lost gas station blew out its windows at me

An outhouse collapsed and whirlwinds gave chase

Targeting me with "saplings" of boards bearded with olive hogbristle

Then came fresh screams lashing like roadhouses in blazes

Triggering hideous hoots and hollers

And I saw those many miles away the prisoner rising


Molting sheaves of electrons

Farewelling his kindly cadaver

Spiraling like a creek of diamonds into the lightning above Potosi

But as I strained to somehow signal

A quarry launched a chain of unmerciful blasts against itself

Exploding dolomite veins like tsunami of icebergs

Dashing what was left of topography

Shanghaing the whole gut-tattered night

Ejecting me moonless and naked…

I fell to Highway 8 on a wheelbarrow of bloody pine

And howled like a buzzsaw all the way back to my own mystery

The foddered cream of Crawford County

David Thomas Roberts (1991)

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