Ranch Vacation in Grandview, Idaho
All the cows here are certain I’ve wasted my life.
Among the tumbleweed and irrigation machines
I stake my momentary claim on these rented
square feet. I admit I was unimpressed by the pictographs
near the river, a couple dim squiggles I squinted at
in sunglasses, preoccupied by the distant dream of waking
pressed against another breath making faint wind,
a thing I haven’t thought about in some time
though I think about it all the time.
Now the goats are galloping across the deck
their hooves a kind of wrong thunder cracking up
from the ground, which frightens me initially.
This is Southern Idaho a place so stupid I can’t stop
laughing I’m laughing so hard. There is a goat on my car.
There is an owl staring down the great joke of my heart.
I guess I thought this would be fun, something to do
in the open empty range my life has become.
My life has become sitting very still.
My life has become watching the birds.
Smoke Closing In
the horizon and someone
on a screen. Is this thing on? It’s okay
if a million years lie between your hand
and its last light slap on a nearby arm attached
to a real person laughing
those precarious days of pre-winter
Jade said stuff like a model plane
you can paint any color you want
but it’d be better if it were different.
Then in the city when I lived in the city
I could’ve built a haphazard castle
on a hilltop overlooking ferryboats
and several funeral homes instead
I turned shy again
and it didn’t really matter.
Molly came over I’d choose two or three thoughts
I hoped would transfer the essential
guts of a nameless near-feeling
from me to her or just from me
to say aloud. I hated it there too.
Now it glows unequivocally and Molly’s married.
Sometimes life seems like the moon
of some anonymous planet and I’m a reluctant astronaut
refusing to leave the spaceship.
Mostly it’s just these branches
stippled with ash and bent and the birds who talk
without hands and I’m late
to send my little spreadsheets
count my little pennies.
Someone’s gotta do it people say
and I like when they say it I like people
saying things and going
to the movies to not say things
in the eerie astonishing dark.
My dream is a freelance train conductor
with a beautiful brain.
My dream is a lover in a pair of red pants
and one good metaphor for trees.
Emily Alexander is from Idaho. Her poetry has been published or is forthcoming in journals such as Hobart Pulp, Penn Review, and Conduit. She waits tables and lives in Brooklyn.
image: MM Kaufman