PoetryIssue 08 | February 2010

Two poems by Stephen Bunch

Dodge City Out

  after Ed Dorn

Wind turbines spread in a grid
near Spearville—parallel strands
of red lights flashing
in unison against a broken
Saturday night of lightning
moving into Dodge.

On Sunday morning the Crystal Cathedral
rises in straight lines and angles
on a television screen in the Comfort Inn motel
on the Boulevard of Wyatt Earp,
another straight shooter gone askew.
The minister delivers a sermon
on the geometry of salvation,
the busy intersection of the cross,
where the horizontal line of daily intention
crosses the vertical of hope and redemption.

Outside Ulysses a neon Pegasus glows.
At every highway junction, signs announce feeders.
On US-56, the fed fill pens in a stinking patchwork.
At the crossroads, seller and buyer
meet, feeder and fed, sinner and redeemer,
briefly, in passing, joined at cross
purposes before moving on.

Plains people know the ease
of straight lines and right angles—
the appearance of management, control—
until they vanish in the slow
imperceptible curve of the horizon.
And somewhere between Ulysses
and Walsenberg, on a ragged line
of antelope and chaparral,
they learn to live
with the apparition of mountains.

In the mountains and valleys
of northern New Mexico, the churches are packed
with mud and curve out from the earth.
But in a rectangular, windowless morada
near Taos the penitentes stripe themselves,
straight bleeding lines on shoulders
and backs to steer them off
the wayward path, the jag
and curve of mountain, the road that twists
into valley’s comfort, the easy sprawl
of cottonwood, the burst of mountain lupine.

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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

It’s Salty by Kelly Hill

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