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Split Stock: Selected Poems


Four sample poems by Brad Henderson from Split Stock: Selected Poems


Mr. Yippy I. Oh

I feel like a cowboy
when I wear my
                leather jacket
and drive 'round in
                my Buick Wildcat.

The oozy suspension sways.
I take two Dramamine and
                ride like a priest.
In sensory overload
                that genuine leather
smells like a horse's nose.

As a boy, I pitied a gelding
called "Snipper." It was
                so big
                and so scared
                of five star bits
                and spurs.

I ride to Kay-LOVE and
look at L.A. through
                cool-blue sunglasses.
Ballads on AM radios make
                my big heart well-up
                arms slow dance
                and foot press the metal.

62 mph on the Four-Oh-Five at sunset
reminds me of
                friendly Indians and Arizona
                and I think-dream
                campfires flickering
                in high-rise glass.


Mansion of When I Sleep
4:40 AM, Corvallis, Oregon

in that lost time, when my mind & flesh uncable
& air eats the spirit, like smoke from a gun
i forget the hands, gripping nude steam
the crimps between buttocks & prostrate side
& i vanish, like a click, into walking fright
lost in a mansion, i visit each night
always the dim halls, which never end
the crossed swords, lard wicks, & pirate's jewels
the dust, the creaks, & balusters' dark knurls
then appears the panel: the door to the secret room
her relics, on a nightstand, silver brooch & cameo
stained from lost beauty
in daguerreotype pose, unabashedly fertile
yet too modest to show her teeth
her coy ghost circles, the fever manifests
i coax up skirts to crisp pantaloons
untie & loosen, the suitor, i race
for a grope of lovely lotioned thigh
feigned indignation, a throaty moan, no
then through the purple membrane
i go, awaking knowing
i have courted this spinster, years in-a-row
warm, i resettle, lonely she's gone
knowing i will rise & be dull at dawn
to the old-fashioned ravings, i bind
& collect, like hooded selves
that squirm on a stick


The Star Spangled Banner

i have never invoked you
in the dawn's early light
nor under the tarpaulin of war
                my saber meat-waxed
                my brain blue
                my soul wishing
                like satin beneath
                a too-short skirt

once upon a millennium
pride hailed to be brave
                gonna kill a kraut
                gonna drop ordnance
                gonna hump the trail
fearless timmy
will hold the flag
screaming for stars & stripes
the All-American
hoochie koochie
& letters from anyone
back home

I confess
to my T.V.'s scrivel
& the armchair union
of surreal men
there's a moon in my throat
right before the kick-off
when i zippadeedoodah
through your notes
when i smell brain data
the grid-iron's
green gas

Only in my dreams
have i been a soldier
over & over
as a boy & as a man
battle glory funnels
into suck of death
& i duck, i hide, i lie
till I awake
smug in the shame
of clammy sheets
knowing i was born
without a hunter's
womb-less self
to honor Country
die fast in a letting
like the ruddy brass squawking
of a ritual song


The Rebel Knight's Prayer

                                for Jessica Wolf Henderson

The fairytale began when our eyes first locked
Hearts polarized like sweet earth pulling soles
Of feet. Our only fighting was over socks--
Whether to waggle them in wads, or bond and fold?
She gave me a home like Mother's, where I
Jousted away my boyhood, like an otter on snow
And I've kept on sliding head-first toward death, the knight
Idiot who wars with booze and blaze, glory and prose
Yet it was she whom cancer plagued, meanest canker
For kindest flesh, the ghost hawk preying on milky breasts
Now, bosom veiled, she walks more anchored
And her laughter vamps heaven like a minor chord
Each time I hug her, I feel a bony arc of ribs
A blue flame on the mettle, of two lives yet to live