The Rogue Voice

A LITERARY JOURNAL WITH AN EDGE

March 01, 2008

Poetry

At that moment, at the train station

She wore a skirt for the occasion,
but I thought of the elderly, erudite
Chinese man I had spoken to on the
trip South, as we dozed off and on.

The train stopped I don’t know where
to discharge an unmanageable drunk.
Was I touching your thigh then, or
listening to the nice man snore?

We had a German librarian's ceramic
flask from which we sipped warm vodka
as the train trundled North. She sat,

naked & beautiful, on the small wet tiles,
a little dazed, homesick, as she said
later, neither happy nor un-

—Todd Young


I FOUND HER THAT SUMMER
AND NAMED HER GIRLIE


Just fur and bones, couldn’t even walk
I fattened her with dog food and oatmeal
At first, she was frightened
the sound of her dish scraping the cement
I coaxed her by touching the dish
rubbing the sides of her mouth

In a few days, we were walking the railroad tracks
I snapped my fingers, she moved in close to my right leg
She trained me to snap for her
soon we were running the farm trail
out past the cotton field

She ran ahead like a coyote runs
stopped where the pipe cuts over the canal
stood there tail wagging, waiting to be carried
I held her limp in my arms
used her for balance to cross

At night she slept on the doormat
tail curled over her nose
I could always hear her breathing there

Last week found her in the ditch,
a bullet lodged her spine
“There’s nothing I can do” said the vet

I stayed outside with Girlie that night
Held her head in my hand
Tension in her breathing. Spasms each breath
Sometimes she’d whimper, lick my hand
Slowly the moon crossed the sky. The night turned cold

Just before sunrise, she died
I cried a little. Dug a grave by the railroad . . .

Sometimes when the wind blows at night
it sees Girlie’s just outside my door

—Ivan BrownOtter


LLANO VAQUEROS

Padilla unloads mangy herd of Mexican
cattle in the field.
Meaner, horns long and sharp
for bloody battle, lean from a diet
of prairie weed, looking more
like cattle did years ago
on the plains
than cattle now—
-sluggish, pampered globs
stalled year round for State Fair judges to admire, stall-salon dolls, hooves manicured
and polished, hide-hair blow-dried, lips
and lashes waxed.
I ride down the dirt road
on Sunshine (my bay mare)
and she smarts
away from their disdainful glare—
-come in, try to lasso us,
try to comb our hair.
I admire my ancestors, Ilano vaqueros,
who flicked a home-made cigarette in dust,
spit in scuffed gloves, grabbed one
by the horns, wrestled it down,
branded it, with the same pleasure
they enjoyed in a bunk-house brawl.

—Jimmy Santiago Baca

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