Johnny Willert

As he filled the jug

from the fresh, seeping spring

he thought about the girl in the skirt,

her lips wet with whiskey

her hands damp with want

her gray eyes moist

with dreams of faraway places.


They thought he was lonely

in the tar paper shack

with only the wind and weather

for company.

There was no electricity

no education

even in the 80’s.


Screaming Widow Peak couldn’t quite cast

a shadow long enough for cooling

on days the sagebrush curled

at the edges, trying to eject

itself from the ground

that was not quite soil, not quite rock.

The rattlesnakes didn’t stay to play.


He rode into town every once in awhile.

Kids found him odd,

adults thought him dull behind the eyes.

His blue roan ground-tied

outside Hardware Hank

as he purchased his meager

supplies: coffee, beans, flour.


He could kill his own meat back then.

He jerked most of it, so it would last,

the rest, stored deep in the dirt cellar out back.

The iron skillet

constantly on the fire

a mix of hopes

a gathering of memories.


They fenced around him,

keeping him in,

keeping him out.

The snow crunched under his boots.

Years later, he caught his arm

in an auger and went

to faraway places.


I wrote a song to you today,

wondering if you would listen,

listen to the brushstrokes

as I painted you into a picture,

hoping you would see.

See all those words I had written.


Each word a rake across

this hellish soul.

each pen stroke a drop of blood





I screamed so loudly no one heard.

their faces, ghoulish masks

scarlet lipstick,

stained teeth




I dreamt a dream about you today,

wondering if you had one, too.

Did you see me as I saw you?

The Sound

The wind breathed fire

into the hollowness.


You whimpered

as water dripped

off the side of the swaying earth.


A rhythmic sound.