House of the Tomato

If a woman wants to be a poet, she must dwell in the house of the tomato. -- Erica Jong

Regional website for the Wisconsin Fellowship of Poets, in partnership with the Reader's Loft.

GREEN BAY / NORTHEAST

Celebrating, sharing and inspiring poetry throughout Wisconsin.

Chaps


Chaps


     The summer of my American West
I met a cowboy. He had sprawl, 
tanned grooves, deeper pockets,


     He sized me up sidelong,
said he wrangled. I wondered
where his boots had been.


     My friend liked his friend,
so we made ourselves scarce, 
heaving up into his pickup.


     I felt the tread of his hands 
as he drew me by the elbow
through a swinging door,


     wood floor, feet stomping dust
of the music. He smelled like saddle,
something of tobacco.


     He drew me close in a wild orbit
of banjo, fiddle, his ropey arms 
steering me Country Swing.


     Stampede of night, cascade of
spurs jinglng like stars, we kept at it,
shirts untucked, steps trickier.


     Pretzel, can opener, dip: he had
moves up his checkered sleeves,
wide brim hiding surprise


     inside his eyes, moons in a jar.
I was springier than my rolling Midwest.
He blew on his mug of beer,


     chased down with ice water,
smile like the tug of a lasso,
eyes wind-worn prairie bluets.


      I envied the women, their 
cowboy boots, tooled leather 
giving a hint of the search party,


     their surety of horizon as I
skipped around like tumbleweed.
He held my hand, a gift behind


     the small of his back, bodies 
like wheels turning, turning. I hooted 
and yelped with an eye to each side.


     Night and day shook  hands at 3 am,
sky full of hootenanny, but the window 
at my friend's was blank.


     My cowboy tilted his hat a time 
or two but took it off to kiss me 
goodnight, settling it carefully


     on the dash, hair creased
with sweat and range and leaving,
chapped lips full of frontier.
 

© 2017 House of the Tomato